An ambulance drives at speed past the houses of parliament in Westminster.

Interim report calls for immediate action to reduce harm to patients from handover delays

by Communications team

Delays in handing over care from ambulance crews to emergency departments is causing life-threatening harm to patients.

This has prompted us to publish an interim report with early findings from our ‘Harm caused by delays in transferring patients to the right place of care’ investigation. In it we recommend a national response to tackle this urgent issue.

Safety recommendations for the Department of Health and Social Care

The interim report includes ten initial findings of interest and two safety recommendations for the Department of Health and Social Care to action.

Our safety recommendations:

  • HSIB recommends that the Department of Health and Social Care leads an immediate strategic national response to address patient safety issues across health and social care arising from flow through and out of hospitals to the right place of care.
  • HSIB recommends that the Department of Health and Social Care conduct an integrated review of the health and social care system to identify risks to patient safety spanning the system arising from challenges in constraints, demand, capacity and flow of patients in and out of hospital and implement any changes as necessary.

Whole system response

An effective response should consider the interactions of the whole system: an end-to-end approach that doesn’t just focus on one area of healthcare and prioritises patient safety.

Our investigation will continue to explore patient flow through hospitals and how delays in discharging patients from hospitals to social and community care impacts on the ability to move patients from an ambulance into an emergency department and on to the right place of care.

A headshot of a man with short cropped hair and a beard.
Neil Alexander, National Investigator

National Investigator’s view

Neil Alexander, National Investigator, says: “As our investigation progresses, we continue to hear about the deep anxiety and distress that delays in handing over care can cause. It is one of the most urgent issues facing healthcare and sadly has resulted in deaths of patients who couldn’t access the treatment they needed in time.

“Having heard from both frontline staff and healthcare leaders, it was important to publish what we had found so far from a patient safety perspective and to prompt immediate action.

“Our initial findings point out that each area of the healthcare system is doing what they can to tackle growing pressure. Our safety recommendations recognise that this work needs to be brought together under a national, strategically led response that reduces delays and improves patient flow across the health and care system to mitigate the current harm and future risks to patient safety.”

A final report is expected later this year.

Read the interim report

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