South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) and more than 70 system partners from regional hospital trusts, clinical commissioning groups, NHS England NHS Improvement, Surrey Police and community healthcare providers came together recently in Crawley for a major review of what has been done collaboratively over the past year to improve ambulance handover delays at hospitals and what more can be achieved.

This work is part of SECAmb’s Service Transformation and Delivery (STaD) programme but handover delays are a shared system problem – in Surrey and nationally – that reduce the quality of patient experience but also impact on ambulance and A&E performance and staff morale.

Hospital handover delays occur when arriving ambulance crews are unable to hand over the care of their patient to hospital staff in Emergency Departments (EDs). National figures show one in eight hospital handovers were delayed by more than 30 minutes over winter 2017/18 and in that same year SECAmb alone lost over 56,000 staff hours to handover delays.

STaD is a dedicated programme begun as part of SECAmb’s commitment to reducing this loss. Since its introduction in last year lost hours have been reduced by 17%, meaning 12,000 SECAmb hours were reclaimed in the year 2018/19.

SECAmb also achieved a 17% reduction in the numbers of patients who waited between 30 and 60 minutes for a handover, and a 34% reduction in the numbers waiting over 60 minutes.