Ambulance queues worse on Sundays and Mondays, says Shropshire hospital boss
A health boss has spoken about the challenges of growing numbers of ambulances turning up at Shropshire's two main hospitals – particularly on Sundays and Mondays.
Simon Wright, chief executive of Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, told a meeting of the trust's board that they are now in the grip of winter and seeing an ambulance turn up at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Telford's Princess Royal Hospital every 10 minutes.
He said groups of ambulances arriving together were also causing problems.
Speaking about a recent Sunday, Mr Wright said: "We normally at Princess Royal Hospital see 50 ambulances on a Sunday and we saw 96.
"That scale of numbers is extremely difficult to plan for.
"A lot of ambulances are arriving within a five-hour window.
"It is a very significant shift, particularly on Sundays and Mondays."
Mr Wright said Princess Royal Hospital had only been designed to receive three ambulances an hour.
"We are talking to the ambulance service about whether or not there is a reason why they are coming in these groups," he said.
Mr Wright said the move to the NHS 111 number may account for a rise in patients being taken to hospital, and the trust is also looking into whether there have been changes to health services in communities which may have a knock-on effect.
It was recently revealed that plans are being drawn up for ambulances to be taken to hospitals with the shortest waiting times, rather than the nearest geographically in a bid to reduce handover times.
Mark Docherty, director of clinical commissioning at West Midlands Ambulance Service, said he had been left worried by patients being left in the back of ambulances for up to two hours at hospitals in the region.
He said leaving frail or vulnerable patients in this way was likely to put them in “significant” risk and said staff were “frustrated” by the situation.
Ambulance service chief executive officer Anthony Marsh, said £2.3 million plans are about to be launched to tackle the issue – and will see patients transferred to hospitals with the shortest wait rather than the closest geographically.
In a bid to help deal with winter pressures, SaTH has opened a new 30-bed ward at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
Mr Wright also told the board at Thursday's meeting that the trust had an additional 143 medical beds open this winter.