North Mid has ninth-longest ambulance waiting times in England

Most ambulances are having to wait more than half-an-hour outside the Edmonton hospital before patients are transferred to the accident and emergency (A&E) department, reports Louis Altmann

Ambulances waiting outside North Mid
Ambulances waiting outside North Mid

Sixty percent of ambulances arriving at North Middlesex University Hospital had to wait more than 30 minutes to hand over to A&E in the first week of December, according to NHS data.

The NHS England target is for all handovers between ambulances and A&E to take place within 15 minutes, with none waiting more than 30 minutes.

But out of 518 ambulances waiting outside North Mid in the week ending 10th December, 311 had to wait for longer than 30 minutes, and 58 (11%) had to wait longer than 60 minutes.

North Mid’s 60% figure for 30-minute waits is the ninth highest in England for NHS trusts, with University Hospitals Plymouth, Royal Cornwall Hospitals, and Royal United Hospitals Bath making up the top top three at 83%, 83% and 75% respectively.

Nationally, 30% of patients waited longer than the four-hour target time for being treated at A&E in November, while the average response time for category two emergency calls such as heart attacks and strokes was 38 minutes, more than double the 18-minute target time.

So far, ambulance handover statistics are better than they were at this time last year, but trends suggest the situation is deteriorating.

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An inspection of North Mid’s A&E by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year found that a lack of beds was leading to some patients being left waiting outside in ambulances. However, CQC also said that there were good processes in place for identifying patients
who needed escalating through the ambulance queues.

CQC told North Mid that it needed to work more closely with NHS ambulance services to review how to more efficiently transfer patients from ambulance to A&E. However, it maintained its overall rating for the department as ‘good’.

A North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust spokesperson said: “Our emergency department is one of the busiest in London, with high volumes of walk-in patients and ambulance arrivals each day.

“Our teams work hard to provide safe and compassionate care, and are focused on reducing the time it takes for ambulance handovers, so that ambulance staff can get back out into the community as quickly as possible.

“We have implemented a number of measures in light of the particularly high demand that we experience during the winter period. This includes additional staff to oversee and speed up the handover of patients from ambulance crews and a revised assessment process to improve the timeliness of handover to available treatment areas.”

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