Rise in ambulance patient handover times at hospitals - but Nottinghamshire improving

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Hospital handover hours have increased since May across the East Midlands, with the ambulance service feeling the squeeze of a few bad days.

Nottinghamshire hospitals, however, were not the main source of lost hours.

There were 12,872 ambulance service hours lost hours in May, 3,618 hours over target, new figures show.

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A further 13,084 hours were lost in June, marking two consecutive months above target.

Patient handover times between ambulances and hospitals have risen - but Nottinghamshire is improving. Photo: SubmittedPatient handover times between ambulances and hospitals have risen - but Nottinghamshire is improving. Photo: Submitted
Patient handover times between ambulances and hospitals have risen - but Nottinghamshire is improving. Photo: Submitted

In daily terms, 436 hours were lost a day in June to handovers greater than 15 minutes, which is an improvement on the 620 hours lost a day in February for the same timeframe.

Northamptonshire hospitals meant that they made up for 25 per cent of all lost hours, with Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) being the second highest at 18.5 per cent and Leicester hospitals at 15 per cent.

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has been facing increased pressures linked to busy hospitals taking longer to accept ambulance patients when crews arrive at accident and emergency departments, which in turn can affect response times.

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Speaking at an EMAS Trust board meeting on July 9, Richard Henderson, chief executive, questioned whether the delays in Northamptonshire was due to the deterioration of their hospitals or other trusts in the region improving.

Ben Holdaway, director of operations, replied: “A combination of both, it’s fair to say NUH has got better, as has Leicester.”

NUH’s improvements compared with Northamptonshire may be due to regular meetings within the trust, the board heard.

Keeley Sheldon, director of quality improvement and patient safety, said: “There’s fortnightly system meetings to look at NUH’s current performance but with a quality lens to it, equally a fortnightly catch-up with their chief nurse, so regular dialogue to support any escalations.

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“NUH crews have a really good reporting culture now, so we are really confident that we are escalating when we have got issues so we can take improvements.”

However, hospitals across the region appear to fall victim to random incident and patient spikes, with a lack of resources driving up handover wait times.

Mr Holdaway said: “In the latter half of June we had that hotter spike and it stands out the impact it has on delivery.

“We saw hospitals struggle to cope, there’s just no fat on the bone, you can’t afford a bad couple of days.”

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