Wolverhampton hospital trust fined £105k as ambulance waiting times deteriorate
Ambulance handover times are getting worse at New Cross Hospital as the trust was hit with yet another fine for missing targets.
It is the fourth consecutive month Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross Hospital, has been penalised for the delays.
But unlike in November when it was fined £10,200, this month it faces a bill of £105,800.
This is due to a ‘deterioration’ in handover times, according to the trust’s board papers for a meeting this month.
It should take up to 15 minutes for the handover of patients from arriving ambulance crews to the hospital.
But in January, 199 patients were left waiting between 30 minutes and an hour, while 66 were waiting for more than an hour.
The trust is fined £200 a patient waiting between 30 min and an hour, and £1,000 a patient waiting more than an hour.
“We strive to provide the best, high quality, safe care we can for every one of our patients,” said a spokesman for the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust.
“Our hard-working staff go above and beyond to ensure that patient safety is the highest priority.
“Like many organisations across the country the Trust has seen an increase in ambulance conveyances to the Emergency Department over the winter period.
“We are sorry for any delays that patients experience, however those requiring urgent clinical attention are always given priority to ensure they receive the care and treatment they need as soon as possible.”
The fines are collected by Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group.
Dr Helen Hibbs, accountable officer at the group, said: “Money received from ambulance handover fines is reinvested in The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust-chaired A&E Delivery Board for Wolverhampton, following agreement with them as to how it will be best used, to assist in improving services for patients in Wolverhampton.”
Projects the fines go toward aim to ease the pressure on the urgent care system across the city.
This includes providing cash to volunteer groups supporting homeless and elderly people as well as bringing in extra staff such as porters at the hospital.
Money also goes to purchasing residential home beds in a bid to avoid more hospital admissions.
There was an increase of 25 ambulance arrivals compared to the same time last year. Handover delays are a concern for West Midlands Ambulance Service, which lot 6,800 hours due to delays exceeding 30 min in December across the region.
Ambulance crews often wait with the patients in hospital corridors waiting for them to be handed over.
Chief executive Anthony Marsh said he was concerned about the rise in delays.
He said: “The concern with patient handover delays is the extent to which this is getting worse every year, despite our best efforts to reduce these delays with the acute, clinical commissioning groups, NHS England and NHS Improvement.”