Ambulances wait longest in Ipswich

AMBULANCES face more delays at Ipswich Hospital than at any other in the region, it emerged today.More than a quarter of ambulances taking patients to Ipswich Hospital have at least a 30 minute delay before they can leave, and around two thirds are held up by more than 15 minutes.

AMBULANCES face more delays at Ipswich Hospital than at any other in the region, it emerged today.

More than a quarter of ambulances taking patients to Ipswich Hospital have at least a 30 minute delay before they can leave, and around two thirds are held up by more than 15 minutes.

Figures from the East Anglian Ambulance Trust show that ambulance turnaround times at Ipswich Hospital are slower than at any other hospital in Norfolk, Suffolk or Cambridgeshire.

So far this year 67 per cent of ambulances have experienced a 15-minute delay before they can leave and 27pc have had to wait for more than 30 minutes.

Between April and November this year, there were 13,646 patient journeys to Ipswich Hospital compared to 21,966 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

But just 64 pc of journeys at the Norfolk and Norwich faced a 15 minute delay, however the two both had 27 pc of people waiting for 30 minutes or more.

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A spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust said: "Although not an official government target, 15 minutes is the target we work towards.

"If we've got a number of vehicles tied up outside A&E departments then obviously that has a knock-on effect on our ability to respond to calls, particularly if we have a really busy period.

"This is why we have introduced contingency plans.

"In Ipswich this includes opening an area of the hospital - such as the fracture clinic - to use as a holding area for those patients who can be safely cared for by paramedics inside the hospital, freeing up the ambulances to answer more 999 calls.

"We work closely with the hospitals on a daily basis to ensure that we don't have excessive delays."

In October The Evening Star revealed that paramedics were being forced to man emergency departments in the hospital's fracture clinic because the delays in A&E were so large.

On some occasions the hospital was forced to turn ambulances away to other hospitals because of the pressure on beds.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital, said: "It really has been an exceptional time for us with rising demand for health care across the board, as well as the brighter, safer wards initiative which has seen beds closed."

She said the opening of the new acute medical unit has helped to relieve the pressure on A&E by ensuring patients receive faster access to the most appropriate treatment for them. It means patients do not necessarily have to go to A&E before they are seen by a consultant.

"We are hoping that as it develops and grows it will significantly reduce the pressure on A&E and that will in turn improve the ambulance turnaround times," she added.

Have you ever been forced to wait in an ambulance at Ipswich Hospital? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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