PERFORMANCE: The South Central Ambulance Trust has reported delays in handovers between ambulance and hospital services, with the delay times multiplying by a factor of five in some parts of its patch.

Milton Keynes, the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and Southampton General all saw “significant increases in handover delays” in October. The rise in Milton Keynes exceeded 60 per cent month on month. In Milton Keynes “delays are five times longer than in October 2010”, board papers for December say.

Overall handover delays are almost 80 per cent higher than they were twelve months ago.

However: “At the other end of the scale, North Hants saw a fall in delays of almost 25 per cent, and Wexham Park dropped by 20 per cent” in October.

Board papers say: “We have taken a proactive approach at a local level to get agreements in place on protocols with each hospital.

“We have also been raising awareness at the highest levels in acute trusts and with commissioners and the SHA.

“It is particularly critical this year with the changes we are making to operational management structures reducing the availability of SCAS supervisors to manage patients in queues at hospital.”

Meanwhile “non-conveyance” – where patients are offered treatment other than admission to accident and emergency departments – was identified as an “exception” in the trust’s performance report.

The number of patients diverted from A and E was falling in October, the report said. “A recovery plan to improve the use of other pathways is now in place and is being monitored through the Executive Team.”

The ambulance trust also reported an increase in 999 calls in October.