Patient handover times at two local hospitals are twice as long as they should be, a new report shows.
A report by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) NHS Trust has revealed that “patient handover delays at emergency departments continue to be significantly above the national target of 15 minutes”.
At York Hospital the average handover time throughout April and May 2023 was 32.11 minutes.
At Scarborough it was 36.55 minutes, whilst at Harrogate the average handover took just 12.51 minutes which is within the agreed target time.
According to NHS England, hospital handover delays are risky because they delay assessment and treatment for patients waiting in an ambulance queue at hospitals.
The report states that “pressures across the health and social care system” have contributed to the hospital handover delays, and that the trust remains ”concerned about the significant impact this has on the availability of emergency ambulances and on patient care”.
It says that building work at York Hospital has also reduced the emergency department’s capacity impacting “the ability to take handover of new patients from the ambulance service causing safety risks across the system”.
The update, which has been prepared for an upcoming meeting of North Yorkshire Council’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, also notes “some positive improvements” in the time it has taken ambulances to respond to calls in A&E Operations for the most seriously ill “category 1 and 2” patients.
A national target has been set for 2023/24 for all English ambulance services to achieve a category 2 response time of under 30 minutes and YAS says it has met the target in April and May.
In 2022/23, the YAS emergency operations centre received more than 122m emergency calls, an average of 3,300 calls a day.
The board of the York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust heard in May that ambulance handover waiting times have “generally shown deteriorating performance over the last year”.
The report for the board meeting noted that whilst its target had not been reached since August 2021, there has been “significant improvement since January” this year.
A spokesperson for York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We work in partnership with Yorkshire Ambulance Service, and we continue to work together to understand how we can safely speed up the handover of patients.
“As part of this close working arrangement, in March we began a joint improvement project which involved a full review of our working practices, and refining and establishing new processes where appropriate.
“We are already beginning to see noticeable improvements and our average handover times are improving.”
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