Shrewsbury hospital to take over staffing of unit designed to speed up ambulance delays
Royal Shrewsbury Hospital is to take over the running of a unit designed to stop ambulance crews being stuck for hours waiting to hand over patients.
An 'Ambulance Decision Area' (ADA) was set up at RSH last year as part of measures to cut the lengthy handover delays faced by ambulance staff.
The waits had led to a situation where ambulance crews were frequently having to wait up to, and over, 10 hours to hand patients over to A&E at the hospital.
Until now the unit has been staffed by 24 workers from West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS).
But WMAS, and Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which manages RSH along with Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, have now confirmed that the pilot will not be extended – but the unit will continue with SaTH staff instead.
ADAs will continue to operate at three Birmingham hospitals, Queen Elizabeth, Heartlands and Good Hope, and Worcestershire Royal, where they are staffed by WMAS workers.
Sara Biffen, acting chief operating officer at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust, offered thanks to the ambulance service for its work, and said that it would continue to work to cut delays at the trust.
She said: “The Ambulance Receiving Area (ARA) at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital remains in place and patients will continue to receive the care they need.
“The staffing model, which involved colleagues from West Midlands Ambulance Service, was a 12-month pilot which has come to an end, and we would like to thank them for their valued contribution.
“Care will continue to be provided by our clinical teams, consistent with the ARA at Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, and we are continuing to work with our system partners to reduce delays for those who need our services, including those arriving by ambulance.”
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman confirmed the move and said the majority of the 24 staff who have been running the unit will return to other roles – while three will leave later this year.
He said: "The trust was informed by Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital at the end of August that it was not going to extend the 12-month pilot Ambulance Decision Area (ADA) scheme that currently operates at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital.
"A total of 24 staff currently work there: 12 advanced paramedics who are on secondment from their substantive roles and 12 Ambulance Health Care Assistants (AHCA).
"The 12 paramedics will return to their substantive roles in November when the pilot finishes.
"Of the 12 AHCA, two are due to start on our Student Paramedic course; two have transferred to another ADA project in Birmingham which is continuing; and five are likely to join our non-emergency patient transport service. The remaining three, who are on fixed term contracts will leave the Trust at the end of November."
The A&E units at SaTH have faced major struggles in recent years, and Shropshire's performance against the Government's four-hour waiting target was the worst in the country in August.