Ambulance turnaround times provide the time interval from ambulance arrival time at a hospital, to when the ambulance crew declares readiness to accept another call. The performance target for 2019 is that 95% of all ambulances have an interval of less than 60 minutes from arrival at the ED to when the ambulance crew declares readiness to accept another call. As of September 2019, 87.3% of ambulances at Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore achieved a turnaround time of 60 minutes of less.
When the emergency care system at Hospitals are under pressure, there is the potential for delay in the transfer of care of patients from ambulance to Emergency Department personnel. An Ambulance Turnaround Framework was developed which sets out the process that alerts management, to increases in emergency demand and activity resulting in the delayed transfer of care of patients and delays in the release of ambulance resources. A management process is then employed to ensure the timely release of all ambulance resources in a safe manner allowing timely service delivery to patients.
My Department has engaged extensively with the HSE this year to identify mitigating actions to bring down trolley numbers and waiting times in the ED in the face of growing demand. The HSE Winter Plan was launched on Thursday 14 November in preparation for the anticipated increase in demand over the winter period and is supported by an additional €26m in winter funding nationally, with specific funding allocated to the Winter Action Teams to support initiatives at local level.
I have been assured that the HSE is committed to ensuring that patient care remains seamless and that patients are clinically handed over in a safe, professional and timely manner; with the safety and dignity of the patient being of paramount importance.