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Suffolk/Essex: Ambulance service failing to meet response time targets, but chief executive stresses that improvement work is continuing

PUBLISHED: 09:54 24 July 2014

The ambulance service was called to the scene

The ambulance service was called to the scene

The chief executive of the region’s ambulance service admitted last night that improvements need to be made after ‘disappointing’ new figures showed the Trust had failed to meet response time targets for life-threatening emergencies.

The data, revealed in an Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group report, showed that in May, the trust met the eight-minute response target for patients who had suffered cardiac arrests and had stopped breathing 64.5% of the time. For those incidents, it is recommended that ‘two resources should be despatched’.

The eight-minute response time for all other life-threatening emergencies was met just 59.7% of the time in that same period. The national standard for both targets is 75%.

Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), said the Trust is aware that it needs to improve response times.

He added: “One of the issues is that we simply do not have enough resources to cope with the increasing demand, and to help change this we’re recruiting 400 student paramedics and putting new ambulances out on the roads. Our staff are currently working extremely hard to deal with a high number of 999 calls and to provide patient’s with the best possible care.

“We have already made offers of recruitment to almost 340 people, and the first set of student paramedics are already out on the road responding to emergencies. We have also put 147 new ambulances across the region since the start of the year – with 120 more to follow by spring next year.”

The figures are in a performance report which will be go before the CCG next week.

Officials at the organisation have stressed they will continue to support ambulance bosses as the Trust looks to make improvements to the service.

Wendy Tankard, chief contracts officer for the Ipswich and East Suffolk and West Suffolk CCGs, said: “Both clinical commissioning groups are working with the ambulance trust to address their performance issues.

“EEAST is already restructuring and redesigning services, including recruiting more frontline staff to meet increased demand.

“The CCGs will continue to support EEAST to deliver improved emergency care services.”

Annie Topping, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said her organisation has received more than 500 comments about the East of England Ambulance Service.

She said that while the majority of them were positive, roughly 20% were negative and the majority of these were about waiting for ambulances to arrive.

She added: “We are naturally disappointed to see the targets have been missed during this time period, however, we understand that the number of times patients with critical and serious conditions have needed to wait 20 minutes or more has reduced and this will have a positive impact on patient outcome and experience. It is important to look at other clinical quality data to gain a full picture of service quality.

“We have established formal mechanisms to work with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust and the CCG’s to scrutinise service quality and we will continue to use our influence to make sure the services are working for the patients.”

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