Deluge of calls for ambulance crews

SUMMER has been swamped by winter pressures, for hard-pressed ambulance crews called to a record number of emergencies.The total number of 999 calls received at the East Anglian Ambulance Trust's Norwich control room in July, topped 12,000 in a month for the first time.

By Tracey Sparling

SUMMER has been swamped by winter pressures, for hard-pressed ambulance crews called to a record number of emergencies.

The total number of 999 calls received at the East Anglian Ambulance Trust's Norwich control room in July, topped 12,000 in a month for the first time.

As reported on the Evening Star website yesterday , latest figures reveal that the inexorable rise in calls has now even surpassed the extra number of calls traditionally expected during winter months.

July's total of 12,116 is nearly 12 per cent higher than the same month last year, when 10,839 emergency responses were made.

In December the figure was 10,692, and in January it was 10,468.

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Director of operations Paul Sutton said: "From a demand point of view it feels like winter all year round now."

More staff are being drafted in to help, and Mr Sutton added: "We are employing more and more staff with the extra investment we have received, and this should help to ease some of the pressure on crews.

"But as fast as we have more resources, the number of people wanting to use them keeps going up."

The East Anglian Ambulance Service is looking into ways of managing the increase in calls, by passing some of the minor conditions on to the government helpline NHS Direct.

"An ambulance is not required for about a quarter of all 999 calls, and we need to look at safe ways in which we can direct people to the most appropriate health agency,"

Crews in Suffolk responded to 76.2 per cent of life-threatening calls within eight minutes during July, compared with 63.6 per cent the previous July.

The government's target is 75 per cent.

Weblink: www.eastanglianambulance.com

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