Hospitals told to free up beds for ambulance strike

Who worked so hard to reduce our local “Community” Hospitals? -Owl  (Extract)

In a letter addressed to hospital bosses, NHS chiefs in England have called for patients who complete emergency medical care to be moved out of emergency departments.

This may involve the creation of “observation areas” and additional beds elsewhere in the hospital, Sir David Sloman, NHS England’s chief operating officer, wrote in the letter co-signed by national medical director for England Professor Sir Stephen Powis and chief nursing officer for England Dame Ruth May.

The aim is to free up beds to make it easier to move people through A&E and allow paramedics to get more quickly back on the road.

Some outpatient appointments could also be cut back to allow senior medical staff to be redeployed to emergency departments. But NHS chiefs say “every effort” should be made to maintain urgent cancer diagnostics or cancer treatment, with rescheduling to be considered as a last resort.

Measures should be put in place to ensure that patients arriving at hospitals in ambulances are handed over to A&E in less than 15 minutes, they said.

Ambulance handover delays in England have hit a new high, according to recent NHS data. Last week, one in six patients waited for more than an hour to be passed on to A&E teams.

And NHS Providers’ interim chief executive Saffron Cordery said reducing handover delays would be “incredibly difficult to implement” because of factors including staff absences and rising flu admissions.

Ms Cordery said: “We understand why ambulance staff have voted for industrial action but it’s vital that the government and unions talk urgently to find a way to prevent this and further strikes from happening.”

The letter sent to NHS trusts and Integrated Care Boards said bosses should create and co-ordinate plans on how to handle strike days by 19 December.