KING’s Mill Hospital is now so good at handling some patient admissions it is being held up as one of the best in the region - 12 months on from being one of the poorer performers.
The hospital has overhauled how it handles people coming in to accident and emergency via ambulance, preventing unnecessary delays to 999 crews.
Results have been so good it is now working with East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) to develop advice which can be followed by other hospitals to improve their figures.
The changes have helped the hospital avoid well-publicised trends in other areas, where ambulance crews are often tied up on long waits to pass over patients to hospital staff.
Bosses say the turnaround has been down to a series of changes which even include cutting down the distances ambulance crews have to walk inside the department.
Patients are meant to be handed to hospital staff within a 15-minute ‘urgent care standard’, set by the Department of Health.
Said consultant Ben Owens, head of the hospital’s accident and emergency department: “It’s a way of encouraging departments to make sure crews are turned around quickly.
“We’ve improved by taking the whole process apart and looking at each step from the arrival of the ambulance.”
In December 2011 handovers from EMAS to King’s Mill at accident and emergency took longer than 15 minutes in 33 per cent of cases.
This is compared to 51 per cent - just over half - taking longer than 15 minutes in the same month in 2010.
The hospital is now one of the most consistent performers on the issue among centres of a roughly equivalent size.
King’s Mill, run by Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, has cut the times by going through the handover process in minute detail.
It is now easier for nurses to be brought in from other areas of the hospital to help out at busy times and handovers can now take place in a number of areas instead of two.
A dedicated officer now also handles incoming ambulance admissions.
Said Julie Dixon, head of nursing for emergency services: “We have to make sure we are maintaining quality and risk management alongside efficiency.
“We hope the result is a policy which will be rolled out because EMAS want a consistent way of working for everyone.”
Pressure is increasing nationally on hospitals and particularly on accident and emergency centres.
King’s Mill’s accident and emergency department alone has seen a 14 per cent increase in activity in the last two years.
Said an EMAS spokesman: “The longer an ambulance has to wait to handover a patient the fewer ambulances we have available to answer 999 calls.
“King’s Mill Hospital is leading the way on this issue. There are hospitals where our crews do encounter problems and we will be saying ‘this is what King’s Mill has done and this is how improvement can be achieved’.”
EMAS covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.
Its 999 crews respond to more than 670,000 emergency calls a year.