An apology has been issued by a health organisation and reassurances have been given on the work taking place to improve the efficiency of ambulance handovers.
The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, near Cramlington, is now the region’s largest receiving emergency department with more than 3,500 ambulance arrivals every month and more than 100 crews arriving every day.
During the 12-month period after it opened, many paramedic crews have had to wait longer than 15 minutes before being able to hand over their patients to hospital staff.
In the past year, on average, only around 70 per cent of recorded ambulance handovers were made within 15 minutes of arrival, with 90 per cent made within 30 minutes.
In the year prior to the emergency care changes across Northumberland and North Tyneside, more than 80 per cent were made within 15 minutes and 95 per cent within 30 minutes.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust chief executive David Evans said: “By far one of the biggest challenges we have faced since transforming emergency care has been in relation to ambulance handovers and I want to reassure all stakeholders we are absolutely committed to putting this right.
“On behalf of the trust I sincerely apologise to any patients and indeed to paramedic colleagues and our own staff, who I have no doubt will have felt very frustrated.
“Our priority must always be to make sure patients are safely managed when they arrive with us and in times of surge, this has meant longer delays than usual for ambulance staff.
“We are working very hard to improve the handover process to make this as swift as possible, especially as we head into winter.”
The organisation is working closely with the North East Ambulance Service on a number of measures to improve the time it takes for paramedics to handover patients.