Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ambulances Turned Away from Hospital; Big Rise in Crews Having T0 Divert to Other Sites

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Ambulances Turned Away from Hospital; Big Rise in Crews Having T0 Divert to Other Sites

Article excerpt

Byline: JANE KIRBY Health Reporter

NORTH East Hospitals were forced to close their doors to ambulances this winter as the NHS faced unprecedented demand on emergency services.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust - which runs the new PS95million Cramlington hospital - along with hospitals in South Tyneside and County Durham and Darlington, were all affected by the closures.

They were among three of the five NHS trusts which accounted for more than half of all the 493 ambulance diverts reported this winter.

The region's NHS bosses today said the decision to divert ambulances to other hospitals was always a "last resort".

The number of ambulance diverts in place at A&E departments in England hit 493 for the threemonth period December to February. This compares to an average of 249 times over the same period in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16, a report from the Nuffield Trust showed. The charity said the delays caused by the closures was stopping ambulance crews responding quickly to other urgent calls.

Professor John Appleby, Nuffield Trust chief economist and lead author of the report, said: "There's rightly been a lot of focus recently on the delays ambulance crews face in being able to hand over their most seriously ill patients at A&E. "But what our research today has uncovered is the huge increase in the number of times this winter ambulance trusts have been told that they must take patients to another hospital altogether, because an A&E unit simply doesn't have the capacity to accept any more patients."

He said the pressure on services was affecting staff. He said: "Even allowing for the inherently stressful nature of the job, our analysis of the results of this year's NHS Staff Survey shows they feel significantly more pessimistic than other staff in the health service about their ability to do their job properly and provide a good service.

Managers in the NHS and politicians need to make improving the ambulance service's poor morale and its ability to meet targets an urgent priority."

NHS leaders in the North East said their decisions to divert were always made in the "interests of patient safety". …

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