West Midlands Ambulance Service patients could be placed in ‘portacabins’ outside two West Midlands hospitals to solve the region’s emergency ambulance crisis, as reported by ITV News.
The viability of setting up the ‘temporary clinical areas’ is being explored by NHS bosses at Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust to reduce the long wait times being faced by patients.
The trust which runs Birmingham City Hospital and Sandwell General Hospital said the portacabin plan would be a “last resort” if other actions such as a staffing boost in A&E departments fail to solve the blockage problem.
A report recently released by the trust revealed more than 90% of ambulances arriving at City Hospital in May waited more than half an hour.
Meanwhile, the figure for Sandwell was around 70% of patients.
The temporary buildings would allow emergency ambulance crews to offload patients so they could respond to more calls.
In many cases, crews cannot respond to 999 calls because they have to wait with patients for hours before handing them over to A&E staff.
Chief Operating Officer of Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust said:
“One of the biggest patient safety concerns for emergency care, regionally and nationally, is centred on timely handover of patients conveyed by ambulance to emergency department.”
An action plan has set out emergency measures in the run-up to winter, including increasing the A&E workforce, instructing nursing staff to act as ‘ambulance navigators’ and bringing in more hospital ambulance liaison officers to try to get patients handed over more quickly.
The report added: “A review of the available waiting areas adjacent or within the assessment areas is required to understand if this option is viable.”
Talking about the possibility of putting patients in a temporary building, Mr Kennedy said:
“This would require workforce resources, estates and funding for a temporary clinical area.
“A number of companies are able to supply portacabin constructions that would serve as clinical areas to hold crews.
“However, one additional option to look at would be retaining a number of equipped ambulance units on site (with clinical resource) who would support crews to offload.
“This model was utilised in Wales in winter 2021.”
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