Ambulance service still missing targets

SUFFOLK: Health chiefs have admitted they are concerned that the ambulance service is continuing to miss the targets for response times in Suffolk.

Monthly figures since June show that the East of England Ambulance Service is failing to reach the target of getting to 75 per cent of emergency calls within eight minutes in Suffolk. However overall the service is slightly exceeding its targets for all six counties in the East of England.

In Suffolk on average the service has reached just 67pc of emergency calls within the eight-minute target.

It also failed its targets for getting a transportation vehicle on scene within 19 minutes, reaching an average of 90.4pc of calls, against the target of 95pc. For less serious calls – Category B (19 mins) – it also failed, reaching 88.6pc of calls against a 95pc target.

In a performance report to the NHS Suffolk board next week, it states: “NHS Suffolk remains concerned around current local performance against the ambulance response times targets for Category ‘A’ and ‘B’ calls. This has been escalated to NHS Bedfordshire as lead commissioner for the service and taken forward through the regional contracting process.”

Colin Walker, Suffolk Coastal District councillor who used to work in the ambulance service, said: “Our performance is not so good as the others. I would like to see an improvement. We know there is no extra money – we need the resources to be moved around.”

Prue Rush, health campaigner who lives in Fressingfield, added: “Perhaps the target that has been set is not reasonable for reaching us out in the sticks. It only takes a couple of busy periods and their targets are shot to pieces. We do not get the service we would like, despite the ambulance service trying quite hard.

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“As rural people we have to thank our lucky stars that we have the air ambulance.”

Earlier this year the service came under scrutiny from the Health Scrutiny Committee. Marcus Bailey, clinical general manager, said there were initiatives in place to ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, including an advanced caller ID system so ambulance crews can start to head in the general direction as soon as the call comes in, and community first responders.

n What do you think of the ambulance service? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.