Ambulance responses mixed across county

HUNDREDS of ambulances in east Suffolk have failed to attend potentially life-threatening emergencies in the target time this year, new figures reveal today.

HUNDREDS of ambulances in east Suffolk have failed to attend potentially life-threatening emergencies in the target time this year, new figures reveal today.

Crews failed to reach 1341, out of a total of 5,317, Category A calls within eight minutes.

Of these, 243 took more than 19 minutes to get to.

Government targets state that an ambulance trust must reach 75pc of all Category A emergency calls within eight minutes and the average figure for the whole of the area is above this.

However, the figures highlight clear discrepancies between different areas of the patch, with only 55pc of calls in the Central Suffolk PCT area being reached within eight minutes.

In that area ambulances have failed to reach more than 500 Category A calls within eight minutes.

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In 146 cases they took more than 19 minutes to respond.

In the Ipswich PCT area the 75pc target was exceeded each month and in Suffolk Coastal PCT's area the average for the last seven months is above 75pc, although individual months have dipped below this.

The figures, which show the number of calls the crews have attended since April, were produced for the board of the Suffolk East PCTs who discussed them at their meeting yesterday.

Martin Smith, a non-executive director of the board, said: “The figures from the East Anglian Ambulance Trust are not what they should be.

“We should do whatever we can to encourage the use of community paramedics and I urge the board to keep a close eye on this.”

Matthew Ware, spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust, said the Central Suffolk area was difficult for the trust because of its rural location.

He said: “Obviously, it is more difficult to hit 75pc in the rural areas than the urban areas.

“There has been an increase in calls of 10pc in the last year, and this increase in calls is still far outstripping any increase in ambulance resources.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to hit targets particularly in rural areas. We would need a huge increase in resources to go from 55pc to 75pc in these areas.”

Mr Ware said ambulances from the central Suffolk area could also find themselves being moved across to Ipswich at busy times, like Friday and Saturday nights.

He added that the trust is introducing more community paramedics and lay responder schemes in areas like this.

Have you faced a long wait for an ambulance? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk