Ambulance handover waits costing up to £1m
Thousands of patients are having to wait for more than 45 minutes in ambulances outside A&E at hospitals in the West Country.
Some people are having to wait up to four hours for admission, new figures reveal.
The delays in handovers from paramedics to hospital staff are set to cost the NHS more than £1 million this year.
Penalties are being paid to Great Western Ambulance Service for delays at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, Bristol Royal Infirmary and Weston-super-Mare General. But rather than being paid by the hospitals themselves, the fines are being paid by NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire, which fund health services in the area.
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Figures show that in the six months from April until last month, 2,151 patients had to wait for more than 45 minutes in an ambulance to be admitted to the BRI, Frenchay or Weston General, with 30 waiting for more than four hours.
There has been an improvement in the time ambulance crews are waiting at the hospitals in the Bristol area since the start of the year.
In January, 399 of the 1,665 patients taken to Frenchay A&E waited more than 45 minutes, and 17 people waited more than four hours, while in September 115 of the 1,678 patients taken to the hospital waited longer than 45 minutes with just one waiting more than four hours.
At the BRI 134 of the 1,793 patients taken by ambulance to the emergency department waited more than 45 minutes in January and none for more than four hours. Last month 106 ambulances waited more than 45 minutes at the city centre A&E, with four waiting more than four hours.
At Weston General, 34 waited for more than 45 minutes at A&E, with none waiting more than two hours.
By the end of the financial year £1,157,168 will have been paid in fines to the ambulance service. GWAS executive officer Neil Le Chevalier said: “Since April we have seen a decline in handover delays."