Peterborough City Hospital has been under “unprecedented strain” this winter according to its chief operating officer, with patients left waiting for hours in ambulances.
Neil Doverty’s comments come after the Peterborough Telegraph was contacted by a medical professional who claimed ambulances were waiting outside the hospital for “hours on end,” preventing them from attending emergencies which were then “stacking up.” The region’s ambulance service lost more than 800 hours in December from handing over patients at the hospital.
Mr Doverty told the PT the hospital has seen a 10 per cent increase in admissions over the last three months compared to the same period a year ago, with on average 100 ambulances a day attending, leading to “instances of ambulances queuing and waiting to handover to hospital staff.”
He added: “However, at all times we make sure patient safety and quality of care is not compromised. At our busiest times we have had clinicians screening all patients arriving by ambulance, and if someone requires urgent, life-saving treatment then they will be prioritised and seen immediately.”
Mr Doverty called this winter’s pressures an “unprecedented strain” but said it was “unacceptable” for patients to be waiting in ambulances.
From January 15 to 21 this year, 914 ambulances arrived at the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Peterborough City, Stamford and Hinchingbrooke hospitals. There were 132 handover delays of patients by up to an hour, with 72 delays of an hour or more.
The PT also spoke to a hospital patient who said she was left shivering in bed after being moved to a cold makeshift ward in an outpatients room. The trust’s chief nurse Joanne Bennis said an “escalation area” in the Day Treatment Unit which was “appropriately equipped” to deliver patient care had been opened up and was in use every day.
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said it works with hospitals to tackle hospital handovers, which led to the development of five Patient Safety Intervention Teams to “minimise patient wait and maximise ambulance availability.”
She added: “Patient safety and care is paramount and we will always work with hospitals to ensure this is put at the forefront of everything we do when handing a patient over.”
On Tuesday, the NHS agreed an action plan, to be published shortly, to improve services provided by the East of England Ambulance Service following a ‘risk summit’. The summit was held by the NHS following whistleblower claims, which were raised in the House of Commons, that 20 people died in incidents when ambulances arrived late over a 12 day period.