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Ditch normal procedures to avoid A&E handover delays, trusts told

Regulators have warned hospital leaders they may have to ‘depart from established procedures’ over winter to minimise ambulance handover delays.

In a joint letter to nursing and medical leaders, NHS England, the Care Quality Commission and professional regulators said it was “vital that we have a whole system approach to risk across the urgent and emergency care pathway”.

The push has come amid a huge increase in instances of crews being held outside emergency departments, resulting in extended response times for time-critical 999 calls.

The letter added: “We… understand there will be concerns about working under pressure, and that you and your teams may need to depart from established procedures on occasion to provide the best care.

“Please be assured that your professional code and principles of practice are there to guide and support your judgments and decision making in all circumstances. This includes taking into account local realities and the need to adapt practice at times of significantly increased pressure.

“In the unlikely event of a complaint to your professional regulator they will, as is their usual practice, consider carefully whether they need to investigate. If an investigation is needed, they will consider all relevant factors including the context and circumstances in which you were working.

“One area that may be an example of this is in handing patients over to emergency departments from ambulance services. There is a strong correlation between ambulance handover delays at emergency departments and ambulance category 2 response delays, meaning longer handovers increase the chances those in need will wait longer for an ambulance.”

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 11 December 2023


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