Fine considered for A&E handover times

The Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is considering imposing a fine on the ambulance service for missing targets.

Since April, CCGs have had the responsibility of handling the health budget locally and ensure services deliver on contractual agreements.

Currently South East Coast Ambulance Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is not hitting the new national target for the amount of time it takes for ambulance crews to handover to Accident and Emergency. Guidance states it must take less than 30 minutes otherwise the CCG can apply a fine.

The CCGs in Kent, Surrey and Sussex need to decide together whether to enforce a penalty, but the Crawley CCG is taking a tough stand.

David King, head of performance and partnerships for the Crawley CCG, said: “We want to ensure all parties take a fair and proportionate approach. However, NHS Crawley CCG is mindful of national guidance and our role to ensure a high quality of care for our patients and is inclined to apply the financial penalty in this instance.”

A SECAmb spokesman said it was taking measures to improve times.

He said: “SECAmb is committed to ensuring the time it takes to handover a patient to hospital is not delayed so patients receive the best possible standards of care.

“It is of course necessary for there to be a period of time in which a patient is handed over from the care of our clinicians to the care of the hospital. However, we work closely with all hospitals in our region to ensure this time is kept to a minimum and that this does not exceed the time which is clinically necessary.”

One way they are trying to alleviate some of the issues is by having a paramedic manager stay at hospital with patients with non-life-threatening conditions while they wait to be admitted to A&E. They do clinical observations while crews who brought them in can go to new calls.

The spokesman added that they were very proud of the commitment shown by staff at what is a very busy time for the NHS.