Monday 16 September 2019

Most ambulances miss HSE time target

Less than a third of ambulances bringing patients to Wexford A&E have a turnaround time within HSE targets.
Less than a third of ambulances bringing patients to Wexford A&E have a turnaround time within HSE targets.

By Maria Pepper

The average turn-around time for ambulances arriving at Wexford General Hospital before they are ready to respond to other emergency calls is 29 minutes and 21 seconds.

Just under a third (31.6%) of ambulances bringing patients to the A&E department are cleared within the HSE target of 20 minutes or less, according to figures released by the National Ambulance Service.

The information was supplied in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Cork TD Billy Kelleher who asked the Minister for Health to provide statistics relating to ambulance attendances at each emergency department nationwide during the last calendar month for which figures are available which was May.

The average turn-around time, meaning the time it took for ambulances to hand over patients, get their trolleys back and be ready to respond to other calls, varied from 21.38 minutes minutes in Connolly Memorial Hospital in Blanchardstown in Dublin to almost 45 minutes in Mayo General Hospital.

At Wexford General Hospital, the average turn-around time was 29.21 minutes.

Two hospitals failed to achieve even a 10% success rate in reaching the 20 minute target- Galway at 8% and Mayo coming in at 9.7%.

At Wexford General Hospital, a total of 206 ambulances or 31.6% were cleared in 20 minutes or less ; 393 or 60.4% of ambulances were cleared in 30 minutes or less; 618 or 94.9% were cleared in 60 minutes or less and 33 ambulances or 5.1% took between one and two hours to process.

The average turn-around time in Waterford University Hospital was 29.97 minutes.

Wexford paramedic and ambulance service employee Cllr. Ger Carthy said ambulance turnaround delays are not the fault of hospital staff. 'In fairness to Wexford General Hospital, the staff try their best to release ambulance crews as quickly as possible but unfortunately there are times when the hospital is full to capacity and there's nowhere to put patients,' he said.

'The way I see it, it's not the fault of the A&E or the hospital itself. It's the lack of beds. Bed closures are the problem. A lack of 24-hour consultant cover can cause delays at night,' said Cllr. Carthy, adding that the ambulance service also needs more staff.

'It's worse at Waterford University Hospital. It's chronic down there at times', he said.

Tallaght Children's Hospital had the best record, hitting the 20-minutes target for 58% of ambulances. Navan, Connolly and St. James' Hospital also turned around a majority of ambulances within the target time.

The National Ambulance Service collates 'Ambulance Turn-around Times from the National Computer Aided Dispatch System which electronically records the arrival time of the ambulance at a hospital to the time the ambulance is ready and available to respond to another call. This time includes the clinical hand-over of a patient to hospital staff.

Many of the hospitals with low turnaround rates also experience overcrowding in their emergency departments.

The failure to reach turnaround targets has a knock-on effect for the ambulance service as it makes it harder to respond to new call-outs in the target time if paramedics are delayed at hospitals.

Wexford People

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