Royal Free nurses assessing patients during ambulance handover

Royal Free Hospital

Royal Free Hospital - Credit: Julia Gregory

Royal Free nurses are assessing patients when they arrive at hospital in Hampstead to help reduce long ambulance times as the NHS comes under pressure.

The move comes as the trust says staff face an “extremely pressured” time with “high levels of demand” for emergency care.

At the Pond Street hospital nurses are going out to meet ambulances as they arrive to help speed up “emergency flow”.

60 minute ambulance handovers at the Royal Free

60 minute ambulance handovers at the Royal Free - Credit: Royal Free Trust

Covid has meant high levels of staff absence as well as hitting hospital capacity, along with delays in discharging patients who need support when they leave.

Group chief delivery officer Pete Landstrom said: “One of our main focusses has been that we off load our ambulances in as timely fashion as we can.”

He said the “nurse-led ambulance handover at the Royal Free has really helped improve the timings”.

“The important thing about the ambulance handover is not only do we release the crew but we actually ascertain and triage any risk for patients and prioritise based on clinical need.”

Most Read

He said staff are working closely with the London Ambulance Service(LAS).

“At times of real pressure in the heatwave we’ve got arrangements and protocols in place with the ambulances where we can release some ambulances," he said. "but the ambulance crews actually then help us staff and look after patients whilst they’re waiting to be taken into the main department, and we’ve created some areas for ambulance handover in our departments, which are safer environments than the back of an ambulance to handover into.”

The Royal Free Hospital saw the number of patients seen within four hours at A&E increase to 70% in May from 66% in April.

Royal Free

Royal Free nurses are assessing patients in ambulances to reduce the flow in emergency rooms - Credit: Royal FreeTrust

Barnet Hospital’s performance increased from 52% in April to 53% in May, while Chase Farm Hospital saw a reduction in performance to 97% in May from 99% in April because of staffing issues, but it was still above target.

The Royal Free’s director of nursing, Rebecca Longmate, said it now has a “nurse-led ambulance handover".

“Not only do we release crew, but triage patients,” she said.

“We’ve now instructed nurses to actually go out to the ambulances to assess and then the doctors follow if need be.

"We’ve relocated a specific area in the emergency department to allow the flowing in with the ambulances to help flow through the hospital.”