I recently attended a Health Overview & Scrutiny meeting on 5th July in which the committee looked at the various winter pressures issues that have been widely reported. In the context of managing capacity I asked a question about the ambulance divert trial currently in place that sees patients in the DY10 and DY11 post code areas of Kidderminster being transferred to the Alex in Redditch.

The draft minutes of the meeting have now been published. I have copied the section about the ambulance divert below to save you having to find them in the PDF yourself:

  • A member asked about the effectiveness,
    feedback and plans of the new pilot which had
    revised the protocol for ambulance borders and
    conveyances, and also asked how HOSC
    members could keep informed? HOSC members
    were reminded that the FoAHSW (Future of Acute
    Hospital Services in Worcestershire) review had

    Page No. 6
    articulated the future of the Alex as a centre of
    excellence for elective surgery, but also that it
    would have an A&E, except for children. The
    cohort involved in the pilot diversions would still go
    to A&E and did not have symptoms which
    required the WRH site, such as strokes. The pilot
    was not at all in conflict with plans, but
    represented a planned approach, rather than the
    reactive approach of recent years. It was due to
    continue to the end of July. Experiences from the
    first weeks showed approximately 10 patients a
    day were diverted, ambulance handovers had
    improved, and patient time in WRH Emergency
    Department had decreased, with no incidents or
    complaints. The WMAS representative added that
    the pilot was something which had been
    considered for a number of years, and was now
    possible because a paramedic was present on
    every ambulance. Ambulances were able to
    provide treatment, not just transport and WMAS
    believed that taking patients to the right place was
    better than the nearest. He reassured the
    Committee that moving these patients was not
    unsafe, and believed it was being done for the
    right reasons – enabling quicker treatment was
    important not only to the patient but to the system.
    The pilot was clear on the area involved (DY10 /
    DY11), and the exclusion criteria. Significantly, for
    once, Worcester had not been on the list (of
    hospitals experiencing handover delays) during
    the first week of the pilot. Whilst this had not been
    maintained as the system had been impacted by
    the current hot weather, everyone involved was
    committed to improvement.
  • A member flagged up concerns about diverting
    patients in winter months in this way, since the
    roads between Kidderminster/Bromsgrove and
    Redditch became particularly dangerous.
  • The HOSC Chair was aware of positive comments
    from the public about community hospitals and
    sought assurance that the pilot would not impact
    on elective surgery at The Alex? The WAHT
    representative advised that the numbers involved
    amounted to around 4 admissions a day (from the
    10 diverted), which was small. The FoAHSW
    model sought to maximise elective surgery
    through better theatre use.