Ambulance service given seal of approval

AMBULANCE crews in the east of England provide a “good” quality service, according to a report published today by the Healthcare Commission.

AMBULANCE crews in the east of England provide a “good” quality service, according to a report published today by the Healthcare Commission.

The score awarded to the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS), formed in July last year, placed it in the top 40 per cent of ambulance services in the country.

It scored “fair” for use of resources.

The annual health check scores each NHS trust on aspects of its performance based on a range of information gathered throughout the year.

Hayden Newton, interim chief executive for the EEAS, praised staff who had worked hard in the face of rising 999 calls against a backdrop of major organisational change.

“It was a tremendous effort by all of our staff in a what has been a huge year for the ambulance service,” he said.

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“The task now is to continue and build upon this positive report in the coming months, which promise to be among the most significant ever seen in the service.”

The EEAS was formed in July last year following a merger of the three services covering Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Mr Newton said that a tightening in the rules governing when ambulance services should start their response time clock running would prove a real challenge for everyone in the service.

The new Call Connect standard means that the clock will start ticking the moment a 999 call is put through to an emergency control room, before the caller's location and problem are known.

This can take up to 90 seconds, which means eight minutes is sometimes currently nearer ten.

“For the first time eight minutes really will mean eight minutes,” said Mr Newton.

“It will more accurately reflect the patient's experience and provide a totally transparent way of measuring response times and comparing services in different parts of the country.

“It means further speeding up our response to life threatening emergencies to ensure that we achieve the target of reaching 75pc of such calls within eight minutes.

“To achieve this we are recruiting significant numbers of additional staff in our three emergency control centres at Bedford, Chelmsford and Norwich, and additional road staff.

“Ultimately we will have, in this country, the fastest responding ambulance service in the world, and we are confident this will lead to many more lives being saved.”

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