N&N hails progress on cutting ambulance handover waits🚑

Welcome to our final Wednesday edition of 2023

N&N hails progress on cutting ambulance handover waits🚑
Ambulance handover times at the NNUH are falling. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Greetings Seekers!

Welcome to your midweek round-up. This will be my last Wednesday edition before Christmas 🎄

The plan now is to take a month off (well I thought we could all do with a bit of a break), and then resume our newsletters again mid January.

While we'll be enjoying the Christmas break, the intention is for our board to use the time available to put a plan together for 2024 so that we can keep pushing forward (and work out what we can do and how to pay for it all). I won't lie, it's a bit up in the air at the moment about exactly what that will look like now our Innovate UK funding is set to run out.

But with 1283 Seekers now signed up and such strong support from you about what we have been trying to do, the aim is to carry on where we have left off.

As well as encouraging emerging and existing journalists to write for us, we are also drawing together a bit of a 'brains trust' of ex-journalists keen to put something back (there seems to be a few of us about these days) to try and shape The Seeker.

With that in mind we also want to hear from you about the stories or topics you would like us to look at in-depth in the next 12 months. Let me know your thoughts and ideas on that one.

📰Today's Edition

  • Ambulance achievements
  • Historic day for Del
  • Numbers game
  • Rooting for Rouen
  • Awards success
  • In Bloom
  • Out and about
  • And finally...beep beep

Our lead story today comes from Tim Bishop, once of the BBC and Evening News and more recently CEO of the Forum Trust.

Thank you for all of your support this year, we're back Saturday for our final long-read of 2023!


Ambulance achievements

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's 'Home for Lunch' policy is cutting ambulance handover times. Photo: Ian Taylor

A long queue of ambulances backed up outside Emergency Departments is an all too familiar sign that the annual NHS winter crisis is with us again, writes Tim Bishop.

Trauma for patients and huge frustration for ambulance crews and medical staff unable to admit any more patients as they struggle to find enough beds.

But there may be a glimmer of hope at the Norfolk and Norwich with a new policy called Home for Lunch helping hospital teams hit a 30-minute zero tolerance limit for ambulance handovers.

Chief Nurse Nancy Fontaine told staff: “Over the last few weeks, through our new approach with Home for Lunch, you have transformed the way we work for the benefit of patients. I know it’s been difficult but please remember that it’s by your hard work and commitment in using the new policy and the changes it has introduced that you are saving more lives every day.”

The Norfolk and Norwich is unique among Norfolk’s hospitals in that it cannot declare an emergency and close its doors to new admissions so if there is a crisis at the James Paget at Gorleston or the QE2 at King’s Lynn the pressure increases at the Norfolk and Norwich Emergency Department.

What it means

Following the introduction of the new policy the hospital says it had its best ambulance performance with 93% of patients handed over in 30 minutes or less and an average handover of just 14 minutes.

Back in April the hospital was the third worst nationally for the percentage of ambulances waiting more than an hour to admit patients. Ambulance crews went from being able to respond to around six to eight calls in a 12-hour shift to around three creating huge delays for patients.

Now the hospital has surged up to fifth best in the country for four-hour Emergency Department performance despite having some of its busiest ever days for attendances at the department.

How it works

It’s driven by the policy which aims to get to a third of patients who are ready to leave discharged before midday which also helps them get settled at their destination, reduces the use of emergency escalation beds, and improves the overall capacity of the hospital.

The move comes off the back of investment in additional beds and extra support at home and a recruitment drive by the ambulance service.

It won’t solve all the problems but amid the winter gloom, doctors’ strikes and worries over funding it’s welcome positive news from the hospital that all of us rely on.

Norfolk County Council has been handed an extra £1.9m from the government to increase the capacity of adult social care and reduce the pressure on health services this winter. Alison Thomas, cabinet member for adult social services, said the increased funding will mean that more people can receive the care they need without needing to be admitted to hospital.