Suffolk: Dramatic rise in ambulance waiting times for stroke and heart attack patients

SUFFOLK: Ambulance bosses have today defended response times again as new figures reveal a dramatic rise in stroke and heart attack patients waiting more than an hour for an ambulance.

In the past three years, the number of patients suffering such suspected conditions, kept waiting more than 60 minutes for the arrival of an ambulance has risen by nearly 500 per cent.

The East of England Ambulance service’s figures show that in 2010-11, there were 351 occasions where a vehicle took more than an hour to reach a patient with a suspected stroke or heart attack.

That number is up from 72 in 2007-08. During the same period the trust said the number of such calls they received nearly doubled, reaching 27,175 last year.

An internal memo, leaked to the BBC, reveal staff at the trust have called on the board to investigate “the vast numbers of patients that have deteriorated due to the current operational policies”.

Since The Evening Star launched its Ambulance Watch campaign last month, whistleblowing paramedics have revealed their concerns.One told the Star: “I think it is building up, someone will die waiting at the scene for an ambulance.”

Pam Chrispin, trust medical director, said demand is at a record high with a 15 per cent rise in all calls in three years forcing the trust to find “more appropriate and effective ways” of delivering the service.

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She said: “We recognise the back up issue which has come about as a result of improving our service to get clinicians to patients as quickly as possible and we are working extremely hard to resolve it with a comprehensive plan which involves more staff and a specialist clinical manager appointed to reduce back up times.”

She said the trust now investigates each case of “significant delay” and new control room processes ensure ambulances sent as back up to rapid response clinicians, on highest priority incidents are not diverted.

n What is your experience of the ambulance service? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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