Peterborough paramedic says he has 'watched helplessly' as hospital waiting times increased
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A Peterborough paramedic has said he has ‘watched helplessly’ as ambulance handover times at the city’s hospital have increased in recent years.
The medic, who has worked in the ambulance service for a decade, has been conveying patients to Peterborough City Hospital for the last six years.
‘When there are 25 ambulances waiting to offload at hospital, who is left to respond to the 999 calls?’
Asking to remain anonymous, he said: “When I first started conveying patients there, it was an uncommon event to be asked to wait to handover, at worse it would be a 20-minute delay-but this was rare.
"Since then, I have watched helplessly as the state of the hospital has slipped. As a local paramedic I regularly care for patients waiting on ambulances for upwards of 6 hours just to be admitted to an early assessment bed.
“This has a direct impact on the health and safety of the people of Peterborough and surrounding areas; because ambulances are unfortunately a finite resource.
"When there are 25 ambulances waiting to offload at hospital, who is left to respond to the 999 calls?”
‘The last few months have been extremely challenging for the NHS’
A spokesperson for the East of England Ambulance Service, who run ambulances in Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, said: “In the past two weeks, we have seen an improvement in our response times, however, the NHS remains very challenged and we continue to ask the public to use our services wisely as we must prioritise those most in need.”
In December, the trust responded to 545 urgent emergency Category 1 calls in the North Cambridgeshire/Peterborough area, with a mean response time of 9 minutes and 14 seconds. They also responded to a total of 1,823 Category 2 calls in the same area, with a mean response time of 1 hour, 13 minutes.
For the same month the average handover time at Peterborough City Hospital was 1 hour 17 minutes.
Around one in three handovers were over an hour – the target is 15 minutes.
‘We have reduced the time it takes to handover patients from ambulances and have plans in place to improve this further’
Caroline Walker, Chief Executive Officer of the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Peterborough City Hospital said: “Nationally, we have seen an increase in the number of people attending Emergency Departments which impacts on how quickly patients can be seen. Whist we care for more people, the safety of our patients remains an absolute priority.
“Since December we have reduced the time it takes to handover patients from ambulances and have plans in place to improve this further, by increasing our capacity within the Emergency Department to create more space for patients arriving by ambulance, and increase our capacity in the hospital to improve flow.”
‘The NHS is the biggest issue people raise with me’
Andrew Pakes, Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate for Peterborough, thanked paramedics and NHS staff across Peterborough, and said: “The NHS is the biggest issue people raise with me whether that is struggling to get a doctor’s appointment, worries about ambulances or waiting times to start treatment.”