Kettering General Hospital says it has seen a “significant improvement” in ambulance handovers since it introduced a new system to tackle increasing time pressures.
The hospital introduced staff from paramedic agency MedicNow in January this year to assess and receive handover patients in A&E.
Concerns had been raised over the qualifications of the staff used and the cost of the new system.
But Kettering General Hospital’s chief operating officer, Rebecca Brown, says the staff are appropriately qualified - and permanent positions will soon be filled.
She said: “We have had one of the busiest winters ever at the trust and this has put pressure on our A&E department.
“We would apologise to all patients, and their relatives, who have experienced delays at this time.
“The trust has introduced a new system to reduce the amount of time ambulances have to wait in A&E to hand over patients before resuming their duties.
“We are using appropriately qualified staff to assess and receive ambulance handover patients in A&E.
“This currently involves using locum staff [from MedicNow] while we are in the process of recruiting to these positions substantively.”
In January 2014, ambulances had to wait more than 30 minutes to hand over a patient on 355 occasions.
The new system has already made an impact, with a 25 per cent decrease in ambulances waiting more than 20 minutes before handing over their patients since its introduction.
Miss Brown added: “Although the scheme is only a month old we have seen some significant improvements in ambulance handover times.
“In January 41 per cent of ambulances waited for more than 20 minutes at KGH but in February [after introducing the new system[ it fell to 30 per cent. We hope to continue to improve on this.
“As with all locum staff the current MedicNow staff are part of the KGH team and overseen by our own senior staff to ensure high standards of care.”