Patients waiting to see a doctor at Watford General Hospital (WGH) when they arrive by ambulance are waiting almost double the national average MyLocalNews can reveal.
In a Freedom of Information request, ambulances handover times at WGH in 2019 (up to June 2) are 28 minutes whereas the target set by NHS England is 15 minutes.
Compared with handover times in 2014, which were 20 minutes, handover times have increased by 20 per cent in the last five years. 47.8 per cent of patients this year have waited more than 20 minutes this year – a 10 per cent increase on 2014.
Chief operating officer for West Herts Hospital Trust (WHHT), Sally Tucker, said they are taking this matter “very seriously”.
She said: “Over the last five years we have seen a significant increase in demand for urgent care services with an associated rise in the number of patients arriving at the Emergency department by ambulance.
“In response to this, the trust has employed more staff and increased the number of cubicles in the Emergency department.
“As a result, our average ambulance handover time has improved and we had no instances of ‘corridor care’, ensuring a much better experience for our patients.”
The average ambulance handover time for the East of England Ambulance Service is 23 minutes, still eight minutes above the national target.
Sally added: “In addition to increases in staffing and physical capacity, we are reviewing the processes for patient assessments when they arrive to the Emergency Department. We monitor ambulance activity round the clock to ensure a swift response when delays start to occur.”
WHHT and Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group announced last month that it plans to spend £350million on refurbishing WGH, despite campaigners suggesting a new hospital should be built.
“Our new access road and dedicated ‘blue light’ access route for ambulances via Thomas Sawyer Way has already helped improve journey times for emergency patients to and from the accident and emergency department,” says Sally. “Depending on which redevelopment option is taken forward the level of investment of the accident and emergency department (including the ambulatory and assessment areas) at Watford varies but all include plans which will help achieve greater efficiencies across the site.
“Over time this will help the trust work towards reducing handover times from ambulances to the hospital.”
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