Concern Over Ambulance Handover Times

27 December 2015, 00:00

Concern has been raised about the length of time patients have waited to be transferred from ambulances to the accident and emergency department at Scotland's newest hospital.


The average handover time at the #842 million Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow was 34 minutes in the seven weeks from August 17.

The Scottish average was 22 minutes over the same period, based on figures obtained by Labour from 26 other hospitals under freedom of information legislation.

An average turnaround time of around 42 minutes was recorded at the Glasgow hospital in the week beginning September 28.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said turnaround times have improved significantly in recent weeks.

Labour's public services spokesman Dr Richard Simpson said the handover time was not factored into the Scottish Government target for 98% of patients to wait no more than four hours at accident and emergency departments.

He said: "These figures show another hidden waiting list as some patients wait on average nearly three-quarters of an hour before they are handed over from an ambulance to A&E.

"If patients are waiting to even get in the front door of A&E, it should set alarm bells ringing.

"These are average figures, so in some cases patients will have to wait much longer. And this is all before the clock begins on the SNP's four-hour target.''

A spokeswoman for the health board said: "We are aware that turnaround times at the QEUH when it opened and during the bedding in period were not as quick as we would have wanted.

"We have worked closely with the SAS (Scottish Ambulance Service) to improve turnaround times with an escalation policy in place to ensure that any delays are immediately identified and the handover of patients are made within a clinically safe time.

"Indeed, turnaround times for last week were on average 30 minutes, and 28 minutes for the week before.''

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "We expect the Scottish Ambulance Service and all NHS boards to work together to ensure patients are admitted and discharged from hospital as quickly and as safely as possible.

"The most recent turnaround times for the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital average around 30 minutes. This is similar to the average combined turnaround times at the same time last year for the three hospitals it replaced - the Southern General, Victoria and Western Infirmary.

"However we are always looking to improve A&E performance and reduce turnaround times where possible.

"Nationally our core accident and emergency waiting times have been better than elsewhere in the UK for the last eight months and the latest published statistics show performance against the four-hour target is eight percentage points higher than at the same time last year.

"We have allocated #400,000 this year to the Scottish Ambulance Service to ensure they are prepared for winter.

"As part of this, the Scottish Ambulance Service have recruited 12 Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officers to work in certain hospitals to help liaise between the hospital and the ambulance service and ensure efficient patient discharge.

"And as part of the Scottish Government's Draft Budget published this month, we have announced an #11.4 million increase in funding next year for the Scottish Ambulance Service - which will see around 300 extra paramedics recruited over the next five years.

"The 5.4% budget increase will also support the recruitment of additional clinical advisers and dispatch staff in control rooms, as well as investment in developing new models of care for some of Scotland's remote and rural communities.''