DELAYS in transferring patients from ambulances into hospital could see Trust bosses fined almost half a million pounds.
Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust could pay up to £431,000 after failing to hand over patients to A&E within the national standard time of 30 minutes.
From November 2012 to August this year, the Trust was unable achieve the benchmark 100 per cent of the time, with March being a particularly poor month with only 75.1 per cent of ambulance handovers taking place within the time.
For every missed target time, the Trust could be fined £200 by the county’s clinical commissioning groups, while those going over 60 minutes could result in a fine of £1,000 per patient waiting.
But despite its failings the Trust is recognised as a ‘good performer’ by West Midlands Ambulance Trust and is one of the top performers in the region having improved its ambulance turnovers in the last year.
Stewart Messer, chief operating officer, said over the past four months more than 90 per cent of handovers had been within 30 minutes but some were longer due to several reasons.
“On average the acute trust may receive five to six ambulances per hour but on occasions there will be spikes in demand. For example last evening (Tuesday) at 9pm, nine ambulances were received in a 30-minute period at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
“In order to reliably achieve the expected performance the emergency flow of patients received in A&E and then onward through the hospital needs to be maintained.”
He added the Trust was currently working with local health economy partners to improve the emergency flow of patients which relied on the reducing the number of patients who no longer required an acute bed.
“We recognise the pressures facing our ambulance service and the imperative to have an efficient handover to release crews to attend to other patients.”
Chairman Harry Turner said he hoped ‘common sense prevailed’ and the county’s CCGs would not fine the Trust when they outperformed other organisations.
Chris Emerson, head of commissioning and service redesign for the three clinical commissioning groups in Worcestershire, said he was pleased the Trust’s times were improving but it was still not reaching the national standard for some patients.
“In accordance with the terms set out in the national NHS contract, the CCGs will be applying the mandated financial sanctions, however we will be considering how the funds might be reinvested to improve healthcare provision.”
He added commissioners were actively encouraging ambulance and hospital bosses to work together to further improve performance in the area.