Ambulance service could lose star status

EAST ANGLIAN's ambulance service could lose its three star status it has emerged today after figures showed emergency call-outs have doubled in ten years.

EAST ANGLIAN's ambulance service could lose its three star status it has emerged today after figures showed emergency call-outs have doubled in ten years.

Between April 1994 and March 1995 ambulances responded to just 71,700 emergency 999 calls. This rose to 164,718 in the same period in 2005 - an increase of 129 per cent.

Rob Lawrence, director of operations at the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, said the figures show the ambulance service has managed to dramatically improve its response time, despite the increase in calls.

However because of the way targets are measured Mr Lawrence fears that the trusts hard-earned three stars may be lost this year.

Previously the 19-minute target time to respond to non-life threatening calls did not count in the ratings, but now it has been included.

Mr Lawrence said: "We have been a three-star trust since the ratings began, we have improved performance this year to life threatening and GP calls and balanced the books.

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"Despite this, we will probably lose a star this year, which is something of a slap in the face for all those paramedics, technicians, responders and control room staff who have worked flat out to achieve fast response to callers along with high clinical standards."

"In 1995 we were only reaching about 40pc of potentially life-threatening calls within eight minutes - yet this year we have reached 76.5 pc in that critical time frame."

The government target is to reach 75 pc within eight minutes.

Mr Lawrence said this has required a number of changes: "We've had to reinvent ourselves to provide a faster and more clinically driven service to the most seriously ill, and a more appropriate service to patients with minor problems, rather than a one-size-fits-all service.

"In the past all 999 calls received a full ambulance on blue lights and sirens - now we can tailor the response, including nurse telephone advice or a non-emergency ambulance, to suit the patient's condition."

n. What do you think of the service? Should the Trust lose its stars or do you think it deserves to keep them? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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