Concerns have been raised about the number of ambulances being diverted to Harrogate District Hospital due to pressure at York Hospital’s A&E department.
Jonathan Coulter, chief executive at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, told a board meeting that over the last 18 months, 1,500 ambulances which would normally have gone to York have been sent to Harrogate instead.
He warned that the current system could risk patient safety and said staff have “normalised” a way of working that’s “very unusual”.
Mr Coulter told the meeting: “The York system is under an awful lot of pressure. The current way of working isn’t ideal for our patients or colleagues that work in these services. But being a strong system partner is calling out things that aren’t going so well and proposing measures to change things.”
Mr Coulter said they were working together to try and find a solution that benefits both parties. He added: “We’re drafting a framework and are in discussion with colleagues in York about this. We’re having constant conversations with York and recognise the importance of working together. Our approach is to be really practical”.
At a board meeting earlier this year, Mr Coulter said a new permanent boundary divert between Harrogate and York would be created so Yorkshire Ambulance Service will bring people to Harrogate from an extended geography.
The aim was to cut down on the number of “ad-hoc diverts” from York, which is when an under pressure hospital asks for support from surrounding hospitals with capacity, often at short notice.
In papers published ahead of the meeting last week, Mr Coulter said the current system needs to improve.
He said: “We will always offer support in extremis – as we have consistently demonstrated – but there is a need to constructively agree an improved way of working across the system. It is also apparent that on occasions, due to the pressure in the system at various times, that there are behaviours exhibited that don’t accord with our values, and this issue is being picked up as part of our discussions with partners.”