Concerns over time it takes for Doncaster patients to be transferred from ambulance to hospital

Councillors are set to write to NHS bosses expressing their concern around ambulance handover times at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Monday, 3rd February 2020, 4:46 pm
Updated Monday, 24th February 2020, 11:48 am

Representatives from Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) updated councillors on the benefits of a new hub on Clay Lane West with other specific satellite sites across the borough.

Members were also shown a presentation on ambulance handover times through a series of graphs and charts.

Latest figures show Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Trust missed the 15 minute standard for November 2019 with a performance of 67 per cent, against a target of 75 per cent.

Ambulances parked outside Doncaster Royal Infirmary's emergency department

Data also shows 21 patients at DRI were not handed over within 30 minutes.

Of those, eight patients weren’t handed over for more than an hour. Hospital bosses say a ‘root cause analysis’ was carried out to ensure no harm was done to those patients.

Health scrutiny chair Coun Andrea Robinson said: “I don’t want to become disproportionately alarmed about it - we accept it’s a national issue - but by the same token you are clearly pioneering very good practices to make sure you’re getting ambulances back out there as quickly as possible.

“To some extent, is it arguably masking some of the problems you’ve got?”

Stephen Segasby, deputy director of operations at YAS, said: “Handover delays is really a symptom of a system that’s not working effectively. There’s a number of reasons why some of the systems - and the DRI is not alone in this - have this position.

“Until we understand our systems as effectively as we can, we can manage those parts of the system that hinge on that like access to social care because if we don’t get that right then that causes hospitals to have a lack of bed capacity which is going to extend how long people stay in hospital.

“This has a knock on from the emergency department because they can’t move people through quickly enough and we can’t bring our patients into empty beds. It’s a rounded problem of a system that is not quite aligned.

“Some hospitals deal with it better than others and there’s a whole host of reasons behind that which could be around bed capacity or the way the department is located and these impact upon it.

“The challenge for DRI from our experience is unfortunately we’ve seen a sort of change of process that has led to a significant degradation in terms of that performance and we can clearly identify that.

“It’s around trying to influence in the right way to ensure we’re seen as a system partner to try to change and improve it because it’s important we all work together.”

Edenthorpe & Kirk Sandall Coun David Nevitt said: “My wife works at the hospital and I see up to 10 ambulances waiting outside the DRI in the layby.

“The graphs we’ve seen clearly show a handover issue and while there are 10 ambulances in that queue, how many are there for the rest of the area and what can we do to smooth the process?”

Beth Vernon, locality manager at YAS added: “We sometimes do have up 10 ambulances outside, however they are not all for Doncaster hospital - we do have some drift across from other areas which we try to avoid but sometimes that is unavoidable.

“On average, we have around 16 ambulances throughout the day for Doncaster and this has increased in the last 12 months - this is around three extra per day.

“We do sometimes have people standing outside - it’s a bit of a tricky area and the path through Doncaster hospital is quite tight and a bus route goes through there as well which makes it very difficult and sometimes we do have to sit and wait until our next job is issued.

“Sometimes they will have to wait for handover but they’re not all unavailable.”

A recent report published on ambulance handover times by Doncaster hospital bosses said: “Work continues with YAS and EMAS to improve handover times, recent challenges with progress have been escalated to the appropriate external senior teams by the general manager requesting support on at both emergency departments.”