What's the plan for ambulances to get through traffic chaos outside Northampton General Hospital?
The entrance and exit into the hospital has been mobbed with traffic during the rush hours this week due to nearby major roadworks
Three-month major roadworks near Northampton General Hospital (NGH) have caused standstill traffic during the rush hours this week - but is there a plan for emergency vehicles to get in and out of NGH?
The works in Cliftonville Road and Bedford Road started on Monday (September 20) and will be finished by December.
The works, which West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) and Northamptonshire Highways are responsible for, will see the carriageway widened on the approach to Bedford Road, creating an additional lane.
On the first two days of the works (Monday and Tuesday) traffic was crawling inside the hospital, in Billing Road, Cheyne Walk, Derngate, Bedford Road, Wellingborough Road, Kettering Road, York Road and more.
So if an ambulance was trying to rush into A&E at the hospital, what plan is in place to avoid traffic and give patients the best possible care?
A WNC spokesman said: "There are lanes through the roadworks which can be opened for emergency vehicles if necessary.
"We would also urge motorists to use the signed diversion route which has smart traffic signal technology that can help manage the flow of traffic, ensuring better journeys for everyone including ambulances under blues lights travelling to and from the hospital."
The council added that it has been working closely with East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) in the build-up to the works and will continue to do so.
Michael Jones, Divisional Director for Northamptonshire at EMAS said: “We have been working with our colleagues from Northamptonshire Highways and other healthcare partners over the last year to ensure that the works do not impact on access to the hospital for emergency vehicles.
“Emergency access for our vehicles is being kept open throughout the works in a dedicated lane and so far, there have been no issues with this plan.”
According to a report by Nuffield Trust, ambulance services are measured by the time it takes from receiving a 999 call to a vehicle arriving at the patient's location.
All 999 calls are triaged into four categories according to the patient's condition.
Ambulances are now expected to reach people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries in an average time of seven minutes. The 'clock' only stops when the most appropriate response arrives on scene, rather than the first.
Category one ambulance calls are those that are classified as life-threatening and needing immediate intervention and/or resuscitation, e.g. cardiac or respiratory arrest. The national standard sets out that all ambulance trusts must respond to category one calls in seven minutes on average, and respond to 90% of category one calls in 15 minutes.
The average category one response time improved from seven minutes 37 seconds in April 2018 to six minutes 54 seconds in May 2019. Since then, the average response time has fluctuated between a high of eight minutes seven seconds in March 2020 and a low of six minutes 31 seconds in May 2020.
In May 2021, the average response time worsened slightly to seven minutes 25 seconds, which came alongside an increase in the number of category one incidents.
To read the report, click here.