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Pressure piles up on ambulance service

PUBLISHED: 13:20 16 August 2001 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 March 2010

PHONES are ringing off the hook at the region's ambulance control centre and a top official has warned that if the number of 999 calls continues to rise, the service may not be able to cope.

PHONES are ringing off the hook at the region's ambulance control centre and a top official has warned that if the number of 999 calls continues to rise, the service may not be able to cope.

The East Anglian Ambulance Trust is still failing to meet response time standards – but dealt with more calls in July than any month on record.

Paramedics and technicians answered 10,839 calls compared with 9,971 last July, and 501 higher than the previous highest in December 1999.

That averages out at a 999 call every four minutes across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, and when urgent calls from GPs are taken into account that is reduced to a call every three minutes.

Crews managed to arrive at 63.6 per cent of life threatening calls within eight minutes – 68pc in Suffolk.

The national standard is 75pc but the EAAT does not have to meet that until March next year.

They arrived at 94.9 per cent of all emergencies within 19 minutes – a fraction under the national standard of 95pc.

Director of operations Paul Sutton said: "The increase in call volume is something which is outside the control of the ambulance service, but if it continues at the current rate month by month, then our capacity to cope with the extra demands will be seriously compromised.

"Staff are under extreme pressure at peak times in trying to respond to this ever-increasing demand and it is to their credit that response times have been maintained almost up to the level of the previous month.

"Over the coming months we should start to see the benefits of new satellite tracking technology in control and on vehicles, of the extra staff being recruited and ultimately more resources being deployed."

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