AACE welcomes HSIB call for immediate action on hospital handover delays

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) welcomes the interim briefing issued today by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) which underlines the fact that hospital handover delays are causing significant, avoidable harm to patients and require new ideas and immediate action by the Department of Health and Social Care to resolve.

Martin Flaherty OBE, QAM, Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said:

The ambulance sector welcomes any proactive initiatives that will accelerate progress in the immediate reduction – and eventual eradication – of hospital handover delays.

As we have consistently pointed out in recent months, we now know that patients are coming to additional harm when our ambulance crews are unable to transfer them into the care of hospital staff at emergency departments. Being treated in the back of an ambulance outside a hospital is not a safe or viable solution for any patient, while the negative effect on the morale and wellbeing of our ambulance crews is significant.

Additionally, while those ambulances and crews are tied up at hospitals, they are unable to respond to other callers who may need lifesaving, urgent treatment. In some regions, ambulance services are routinely losing a third of the hours they have available to treat patients, purely because of hospital handover delays, an unprecedented and unsustainable situation.

This is why we agree with HSIB that there needs to be immediate action involving a whole system approach with the emphasis firmly on patient safety.

We back the call for the Department of Health and Social Care to action an immediate strategic national response to address patient safety issues across health and social care arising from flow through and out of hospitals to the right place of care. We also back the HSIB call for a longer-term integrated review of the health and social care system to address these issues.

Our message is clear; there is no time to waste in finding solutions to unnecessary hospital handover delays. Each day that goes by results in more patients being harmed while stuck outside hospitals or waiting for our crews in the community, and that is wholly unacceptable.

Read HSIB’s statement here.

Read the HSIB Interim Bulletin here.