Dr Dan Poulter, Member of Parliament for Central Suffolk, has called for immediate improvements to be made to improve patient handover times at the region’s hospitals, after obtaining figures which show that the East of England Ambulance Service Trust has lost on average 1845 hours (equivalent to 154 12-hour double staffed ambulance shifts) each month over the past year due to ambulances being delayed at hospitals.
Following a meeting with Hayden Newton, the Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, Dr Poulter and his North Norfolk Parliamentary colleague Norman Lamb MP, have written to hospitals across Suffolk and Norfolk, to find out what steps are being taken to reduce the amount of time that ambulances spend queuing outside the region’s hospitals.
In March 2012, the Care Quality Commission carried out an inspection of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust and found that turnaround times at the region’s hospitals need to be improved in order to prevent delays in handing over patients requiring emergency care.
When ambulances arrive at A&E, they are supposed to hand over the patient into the care of hospital staff within 15 minutes. The delays at the region’s hospitals mean that some patients are left waiting longer than 15 minutes before being handed over to hospital staff for treatment. In February 2012, 617 hours were lost due to handover delays at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital alone.