Kettering General Hospital says it is working hard to reduce the number of one hour-plus patient handovers from ambulances to A&E but is being hampered by the size of its department and winter pressures.
The hospital has been in breach of the government’s target which says there should be no patient handovers to A&E from ambulances that take longer than an hour.
These are classified as ‘black breaches’ and latest figures show that in November there were 56 breaches.
From April to November there were 426 breaches in total.
But the hospital’s chief operating officer Jo Fawcus said the average handover time in December was just over 21 minutes and that only two per cent of handovers were black breaches.
She said: “We strive hard to achieve the 0 per cent target but it can be very difficult considering the demands on our A&E department during the winter.
“We are not alone. Many hospitals in the East Midlands have similar problems and the average number of one-hour breaches in the region was 3.8 per cent of all ambulance handovers in December.
“We are hampered at KGH by the small size of our A&E department which means, at times, a lack of space in the department can make it hard for us to transfer a patient into the department from an ambulance.
“In addition, in times of high demand our staff can be very busy – seeing up to 300 patients in a day in A&E – and that can also make it hard for to achieve handovers as quickly as we would like.
“Over the last year we have looked at our systems and processes and are working very closely with EMAS to do everything we can to reduce one-hour breaches.”
Figures also given by the hospital show that on an average day 85 patients arrive at the hospital by ambulance.
The East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which operates the service in the area, was contacted for comment and said its response was the same as the hospital’s.