Suffolk: Ambulance bosses praise staff as response times improve

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SUFFOLK: Ambulance bosses have today praised their hardworking staff as new figures reveal that response times for the most serious calls have improved.

The statistics, published by the Department of Health, show in August the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) achieved the target to reach 75 per cent of category A calls within eight minutes (A8), reaching 76.9pc - the national average was 77.4pc.

But the trust, which has come under fire in recent months for failing to meet the A8 response time, narrowly missed out on another target - to get transport to 95pc of category A calls within 19 minutes (A19) of the request being made. The EEAST achieved 94.8pc for this target – 0.2pc below the target and below the national average for August, which was 97.1pc.

After the same figures released in July revealed the trust was the only ambulance service in the country to fail to meet the A8 target, The Evening Star launched the Ambulance Watch campaign.

A spokeswoman for the trust said the improvements have been achieved by more in-depth telephone assessment to ensure patients get the most appropriate resource to them as well as increasing vehicle resources and employing more staff.

While Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said he “cautiously” welcomed the new figures, he said more consistent improvement is needed.

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The ambulance spokeswoman said: “We are delighted that all the hard work and effort put in by crews and our performance improvement team has paid off and we are beating the A8 target by nearly 2pc.

“Performance is analysed on a weekly basis to ensure resources are utilised to the maximum advantage.”

Despite missing the A19 target, the spokeswoman for the trust said they are “far from complacent”.

She added: “In addition to building on the actions already outlined, we have plans in place specifically to reduce the time taken to get hospital transport back up to patients. As well as more staff going through the training process we will be increasing resources further and tasking a clinical operations manager with the specific responsibility to cut back up times.”

Dr Poulter added: “It is good to see one month of good figures for response times.

“Nevertheless this is just one month, we need to see significant improvement over a period of time.

“It is important we see management face up to the challenges facing Suffolk, particularly rural areas, and it is vital to keep a close watch.

“Given the failings by the service over a number of years, this is cautiously welcomed.

“These are average figures, we need to make sure that across the board, in rural and urban areas they are hitting these targets.”

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