Healthwatch Cumbria Healthwatch Cumbria Healthwatch Cumbria Healthwatch Cumbria

Barrow Ambulance Crews Are Kept Queuing At A&E

Ambulance crews have been stuck queuing at Furness General Hospital for more than half an hour on 611 occasions in the past year.

In February alone, delays at FGH cost University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust £25,000 in financial penalties.

Every delay of more than half an hour, of which there were 45 in February, costs the trust £200 in financial penalties set by NHS England, and any delay over one hour, of which there were 16, costs the trust £1,000.

The trust, which runs FGH, failed to hit the 90 per cent 30- minute ambulance handover standard across its emergency departments at FGH and Royal Lancaster Infirmary on 11 out of the 12 months up until the end of February.

Paramedics say they are “extremely frustrated” by the delays (according to union representatives).

Mike Oliver, paramedic at the North West Ambulance Service and Cumbria convenor for healthcare workers’ union Unison, said: “From our point of view it’s extremely frustrating to have to queue at emergency departments when we are waiting to hand over patients. Delays at A&E mean we can’t get crews back out on to the road.”

Earlier this month Unison claimed the ambulance service was at “breaking point” due to staff shortages and pressures on A&E.

According to a report to the UHMBT board of governors: “Delayed handovers are predominantly a result of sub-optimal bed occupancy levels and the pressure within the emergency department due to the wait for beds.”

A spokeswoman for the CCG said: “The average handover time at Furness General Hospital was 15.02 minutes – well within the 15 to 30 minute standard. However, 7.98 per cent of handovers (611 out of 7,660 handovers) in 2013/14 still took more than 30 minutes. NHS Cumbria CCG, NWAS and UHMBT are therefore working in partnership to improve ambulance handover times so that all are carried out effectively and efficiently.”