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Ambulance handover improvements at Southend Hospital’s Emergency Department

Southend ED

Information just released shows that ambulance handover times at Southend Hospital’s emergency department have improved by 300 per cent in four months.

A huge amount of work has taken place to improve the situation – which was leading to public anxiety and complaints.

Andrew Pike, Chief Operating Officer for Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Thanks to huge efforts from our staff and health partners, the ED in Southend is in a much better and more confident position after the pressures faced during winter. This is fantastic news for patients as it means they aren’t having to wait as long to be seen.”

The average time it takes for an ambulance to handover its patient to the ED has dropped from over 60 minutes in November, down to 15 minutes.

Average time to handover ambulance patients at Southend Hospital

The Trust worked closely with the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) to tackle the problem.

Ambulance Handover Units (AHUs) were temporarily put in place to help deal with the emergency care pressure in November and December.

The AHUs saw over 800 patients, which meant that 1,600 paramedics were freed up and those ambulances could get back out on to the road to treat patients within minutes.

Andrew said: “The units were a great help to us when we needed them to get us through an extremely busy period while we were working to increase the number of beds in the ED – and we may use them again in the future if EEAST decides they would be helpful. But when we opened that extra space in our ED, the need for the AHUs dropped as we had planned and they were no longer needed on site.”  

Ambulance handover unit attendances

Kelly McGovern, Director of Nursing and Deputy Chief Nursing Officer for the Trust, sad: “In January we added seven more treatment cubicles in our majors’ area, which means we can see more patients. We also increased the numbers of senior staff able to support ambulance handovers.

“This, coupled with improving how we get people home from hospital, means that we have been able to free up beds on the wards, improving care for residents.”

And a multi-million-pound investment is set to improve things even further, with the Government announcing £8 million in funding to expand the ED. Work is already underway, with the first facilities set to open in time for winter later this year.

Andrew said: “Those changes will help revolutionise care for people coming to the ED, and give them an Emergency Department that a city like Southend both deserves and has needed for many years.

“This is a long-term solution to what has been a long-term problem that will help to further improve patient waiting times in ED, and free up beds through the hospital.”


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