999 ambulance times fastest ever

AMBULANCE crews in Suffolk have recorded their fastest-ever average response time to emergency calls – despite a relentless surge in demand of nearly 11 per cent.

By Tracey Sparling

AMBULANCE crews in Suffolk have recorded their fastest-ever average response time to emergency calls – despite a relentless surge in demand of nearly 11 per cent.

The average time taken to respond to a 999 call in April in Suffolk, was seven minutes and 26 seconds. Two years ago the average was more than ten minutes.

And for the second month running, the East Anglian Ambulance Service achieved the government's new response time target of reaching at least 75 per cent of life-threatening calls in eight minutes – hitting 77.9pc in Suffolk.

The service to patients admitted to hospital by GPs has also improved significantly, with 83pc of patients arriving at hospital within their allotted time compared with 78pc last April.

Director of operations Paul Sutton said the continuing improvements had been made despite the incessant increase in the number of people who dial 999 – 10,333 in April compared with 9,320 and 8,695 in the previous two Aprils.

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He said: "The improvements have resulted from extra staff and vehicles from investment by health authorities, changes in working practices by staff in the field and in the control room, and a great deal of effort and hard work by all involved.

"New technologies such as automatic vehicle location and a new control computer have also played their part. These results are particularly rewarding when staff have been faced with the need to improve performance against a backdrop of rising demand.

"The improvement in GP Urgent performance is particularly pleasing, because these patients have been assessed by a GP as needing urgent hospital treatment, rather than some of those who take priority by dialling 999 for minor problems."

Ambulance crews also arrived at 96pc of all 999 calls within 19 minutes. The government target is 95pc.