Measures in place to manage delays in ambulance handovers at Shropshire's hospitals, bosses say

Measures are being put in place at Shropshire's major hospitals to reduce the amount of time that patients are kept waiting in an ambulance before being admitted.

Ambulances waiting outside Princess Royal Hospital in Telford last month. Photo: Dave Hanley
Ambulances waiting outside Princess Royal Hospital in Telford last month. Photo: Dave Hanley

There have been reports of cases where patients died over Christmas in England having waited hours for help because there were no free crews.

A Freedom of Information request has reportedly shown the number of hours ambulances spent waiting to offload patients rose by 48 per cent in the West Midlands.

Hospitals across the country have been under greater pressure this winter – enhanced by the impact of the pandemic.

Bosses at The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, said it had seen a significant level of urgent care activity, both in terms of the number of Covid-19 patients and those attending A&E.

Queues of ambulances have also been seen outside PRH and RSH this winter.

But Dr Arne Rose, medical director at SaTH, says measures are being taken to try and prevent it from happening and reduce waits.

He said: "We are working within the trust to divert ambulances to the right sites, so if the wait is longer on one site it may be that you're going, rather than to Shrewsbury, to Telford - if your condition is the right one for that hospital.

"We are also working with neighbouring trusts to manage the ambulance demand all over the north west Midlands region."

He said A&E consultants were routinely checking patients in ambulances to see if they need to be prioritised.

"That is safer than offloading somebody onto the corridor, particularly because of the coronavirus risk," he said.

NHS England figures show 810 patients arrived at SaTH's A&E units by ambulance between December 21 and 27 – 130 had to wait between 30 and 60 minutes, and 71 had to wait even longer.

National guidance says patients arriving at an emergency department by ambulance must be handed over to the care of A&E staff within 15 minutes.

The NHS 111 First policy was also launched in Shropshire towards the end of last year, which urges patients to call NHS 111 first rather than walk in to Shropshire’s A&E departments.

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