Concern over number of York ambulances diverted to Harrogate hospital
Last updated Sep 26, 2023
Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Hospital managers in Harrogate have raised concern over the sustainability of taking in ambulance patients from York.

In a report due before a Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust board meeting, Jonathan Coulter, chief executive of the trust, said the issue was having an impact on both patient safety and staff at Harrogate District Hospital.

Mr Coulter said Harrogate had taken in more than 1,500 ambulances from York over the last 18 months.

He said:

“In the spirit of challenge and improvement, we have raised our concerns about the sustainability of the current situation, in particular the impact on patient safety and the impact on colleagues.”

Under a previous agreement, the hospital took in ambulances which had been diverted away from York Hospital during times when the organisation’s emergency department was under pressure.

Harrogate took in patients in an “ad-hoc” manner, meaning that ambulances would request support from hospitals which had the capacity at any given time.

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The trust agreed with Yorkshire Ambulance Service and York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to amend the agreement in May 2023 and redraw the boundaries between the two hospitals and to take patients in a “planned way”.

However, in a statement to the Stray Ferret, the trust said it still receives ad-hoc requests from ambulances some four months later.

A spokesperson said:

“Following a constructive review with both Yorkshire Ambulance Service and York and Scarborough Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in May 2023 we agreed to redraw the geographical boundaries between hospitals in Harrogate and York. Ambulances that previously would have gone to York now come to Harrogate, but in a planned, rather than ad-hoc way.

“Despite this new arrangement, there is still significant pressure across our health system and we continue to receive ad-hoc requests to divert ambulances to Harrogate.

“Providing the best possible healthcare for people who need our help is our main priority and we are in discussions with system partners to see what solutions can be introduced to alleviate pressures before we enter the winter period.”

Members of the hospital trust board will discuss the report at a meeting on Wednesday (September 27).