Delays at Royal Derby Hospital have caused nearly a month’s worth of lost hours for ambulance crews waiting to assist in emergencies.
Health chiefs have a target to make ambulance handovers in a combined 30 minutes – 15 minutes from arrival and 15 minutes after the patient has been transferred.
However, in June, the most up-to-date figures, Royal Derby Hospital was breaching these targets by an average of more than four and three minutes, respectively.
These vital minutes, added to hundreds of ambulance arrivals at the site equate to nearly 710 lost hours over the course of June, some 30 days.
The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust (UHDB), which oversees the site, says this is a “concerning trend”.
It is working closely with East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EMAS) to improve the issue, particularly during times of increased pressure.
EMAS says that the delays prevent its staff from assisting in other emergencies.
The hospital trust says that staff sickness has partially contributed to the issue, along with the improved ability of EMAS to send responses to more incidents, causing ambulances to be at the hospital with a patient more regularly.
This, it says, is due to EMAS now having more staff and vehicles.
It says that, in March, “there have been instances of ambulances unable to notify into the department due to crowding”.
A UHDB spokesperson said: “All patients arriving by ambulance at the Royal Derby Hospital A&E department come straight into our pit stop area on arrival, where they are assessed by our clinical staff.
“It’s important that we accept handover of ambulance patients as quickly as possible; sometimes due to an increase in demand this can take longer than the 15 minute target.
“Patient safety is our priority and we’re working with our colleagues at EMAS to speed up the handover process, as we recognise they need to respond to other patients in the community.”
David Williams, deputy director of operations at EMAS, said: “When our crews are delayed at hospital waiting to hand over a patient, they cannot be out in the community helping other people experiencing an emergency.
“We are currently working closely with all hospitals across the East Midlands region to further improve the patient handover process and reduce any unnecessary delays.”