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Will ambulance turnarounds in Gloucestershire be taken seriously before a fatal incident?

A member of Reach wonders “Do we have to wait for an incident like this before delays in ambulance turnarounds in Gloucestershire are taken more seriously, or the ambulance service is prepared to acknowledge the impact such delays are having on their response times: “BBC NEWS: Fred Pring died while ambulances queued outside Wrexham hospital

The nationally recommended time for ambulance turnarounds is 15 minutes and ‘no ambulance turnaround should take more than an hour’. However, Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group sets the Hospital Trust two targets:

Number of ambulance handovers delayed over 30 minutes (not 15 minutes), and

Number of ambulance handovers delayed over 60 minutes.

The target for these is not ‘x’ for ‘delays of over 30 minutes’ and ‘y’ for ‘delays of over 60 minutes’, but simply ‘< previous year’ for both.

The number of ambulance handovers exceeding these limits between April and November last year were as follows:

Handover  Apr   May   Jun   Jul   Aug   Sep   Oct   Nov   Dec

>30 mins 131       89       77     78     98     67    101   105

>60 mins  65         8        16     19     10        9      12    10

All of the above were ‘within target’ (i.e. ‘< previous year’), with the exception of the >60 minute target in April, which was higher than the previous year, because of the prolonged winter pressure period last year compared to the year before. GCCG currently fines the Trust for ambulance handover delays on the following scale:

· 30m – 1hr £100

· 1hr-2hrs £200

· 2hrs-3hrs £300

· >3hrs £500

Up to the end of November GCCG had fined the Hospital Trust £74,600 for handovers taking >30 minutes and £30,900 for handovers taking >60 minutes.

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