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Ambulances set for better times

PUBLISHED: 19:34 15 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:21 03 March 2010

AMBULANCE crews in Suffolk have arrived at 72 per cent of emergency calls within the eight-minute limit so far this month, it has been revealed.

That compares with 63pc for the whole of January, and shows the service is speeding up towards hitting the national target of 75pc in the wake of new technology being introduced in December.

AMBULANCE crews in Suffolk have arrived at 72 per cent of emergency calls within the eight-minute limit so far this month, it has been revealed.

That compares with 63pc for the whole of January, and shows the service is speeding up towards hitting the national target of 75pc in the wake of new technology being introduced in December.

Director of operations Paul Sutton said: "We implemented our new computer aided despatch system in control in December and partly because of that, coupled with unprecedented demand, we saw a slight drop in our performance.

"What we are now seeing is the benefits of the new system along with all the other changes we are undertaking in the service to improve our service to patients.

"It's been a huge challenge for everyone concerned and we still have some progress to make before we can consistently achieve the new target," he added.

Suffolk county commander Frank Harradence said: "We are going through a tough period of unprecedented change and trying to squeeze two years' work into one. Nobody should underestimate the scale of the challenge facing staff and managers to improve from a historical figure of about 50pc up to 75pc and then beyond.

"We have exceeded the 75pc on several days at the end of January and into February, and obviously the ultimate aim is to achieve this reliably and consistently. People should feel proud of the amount of dedication which has gone into making these improvements."

Among other initiatives taken to improve response times, the service has also installed satellite tracking and mobile data, extra ambulance shifts, community paramedics based at doctors surgeries and standby posts where crew can wait at key locations.

Shirley Saunders, ambulance commissioner for Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk health authorities, said: "We recognise the hard work put in by the trust to achieve these improvements following the extra investment in the service in the current year, and congratulate them and their staff."

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