Ambulances were delayed by more than 1,500 hours during hand overs at Eastbourne DGH.
Hospital turnaround figures revealed by South East Coast Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb)on January 12, show ambulances were set back by 2,148 hours in 2015 as patients waited to be admitted to the Conquest, and 1,870 hours until patients could be treated at Eastbourne DGH.
The figures were recorded between April and December 2015.
Chief executive of SECAmb Paul Sutton said patient hand overs at acute hospitals are one of the ‘main problems’ facing the trust.
The number of hours lost to turn around delays at Conquest has increased by 31 per cent from 2013 to 2015 and 6 per cent at Eastbourne DGH.
Speaking in December, Mr Sutton said on an average day, more than a third of resources can be unavailable because paramedics and vehicles are ‘tied up’ waiting to hand patients over at hospitals.
The handover figures across Sussex have increased by 35 per cent in three years, from 9,172 to 12,376 hours.
Nationally agreed performance standards for handing over patients is 15 minutes, from the ambulance arriving at the A&E department.
Mr Sutton said the ‘non-achievement’ of the target and the loss of ambulance hours as a result is one of SECAmb’s ‘biggest risks’.
The figures were sent to Margaret Evans, chairman of West Sussex County Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee in response to discussions about the trust’s controversial pilot project, which saw some ambulance responses delayed as called were ‘retriaged’ – or reassessed.
Sarah Wilmer, Head of nursing urgent care at East Sussex Healthcare Trust, which runs Eastbourne DGH, said: “The trust works closely with colleagues at South East Coast Ambulance to ensure patient safety and the timely handover of patients into our care.
“In general, longer handover times reflect periods of significant operational pressure on the hospital which reduce the flow of patients throughout the hospital and affect our ability to admit patients in a timely manner.”
The trust said it is working in partnership with East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and adult social care to find alternatives to bringing some patients to hospital – and making sure they do not stay in hospital longer than they need to.
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