East of England Ambulance Service crews are not meeting targets

AMBULANCE crews are failing to pass on potentially lifesaving information when they transfer patients to hospital staff, according to official figures.

Staff at the East of England Ambulance Service are not meeting strict targets set by the governing trust, but have improved their performance year on year.

Figures released last week showed that a 90 per cent target level for patient handovers had not been met in the 2010/11 financial year – dipping as low as 66 per cent in June.

This means that in June last year, a medical condition that could affect the treatment of a patient was only being passed on 66 per cent of the time.

The trust’s consultant paramedic John Martin said: “Last year the trust set a quality priority relating to handover and focussed on the completion of written information as part of this process.

“The trust monitored the compliance of fields completed in the written documentation and achieved 82.2 per cent, which is a very good figure.

“However, with a set target of 90 per cent, it has been recognised that further work is required and has continued the priority into 2011/12 with a focus on electronic patient care records and scanning, and also the introduction of monitoring verbal handovers.”

Most Read

The service has seen an improvement in the handover statistics from the previous year, rising from just 55.5 per cent to 82.2 per cent overall.

Patient handover is the process of ensuring relevant information is passed from one healthcare professional to another – this can be both written and verbal.

The fact that information is often verbally communicated and not recorded is thought to be one reason why targets are not being met, but the trust is determined to tackle that by introducing new guidance, logs and training to ensure that a 90 per cent target is met next year.

Elsewhere, the trust made improvements on four other priorities; reducing preventable falls, increasing the number of patients accessing the stroke pathway, improving the risk of infection, and increasing the percentage of patients accessing their preferred end of life care.

Chief executive Hayden Newton said: “Setting these priorities helped us develop important areas of patient care which needed particular focus, and I’m extremely pleased that these aspirations are being met.

“A lot of work has been going on with staff to ensure they have input into what should be happening to develop services, but of course there is always scope to improve patient experience and clinical safety further.”

WHAT do you think? E-mail us, editor@saffronwalden-reporter.co.uk or write to us at 54 High Street, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB10 1EE.