Suffolk: Keep crews local - whistleblowing East of England Ambulance Service paramedic calls for change to improve service

SUFFOLK: A whistleblowing paramedic has today called for local ambulance crews to serve their own towns, in a bid to improve response times and patient care.

The third whistleblower employed by the East of England Ambulance Service to come forward since the Evening Star launched Ambulance Watch 2011 last Tuesday, claims he is “not surprised” at falling response times, calling for a return to the day when crews served specific towns.

The campaign was launched after damning figures published by the Department of Health revealed the EEAST is the only trust in the country which failed to meet its target of answering 75 per cent of the most urgent calls – Category A calls – within eight minutes during July.

In Suffolk 74.2pc of emergency calls were answered within eight minutes during August, and over the year to date just 70.1pc of Category A calls have been responded to within the set time frame.

The concerned paramedic said as well as crews having better knowledge of their surroundings, reducing journey times, the move would reduce fuel costs for the ambulance service.

But ambulance bosses claim their system of “dynamic deployment” allows for the “quickest possible responses”.

The paramedic said: “Many, many years ago ambulances would look after their local town and community, very rarely straying into other towns.

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“Crews would have a good idea and whereabouts of their surrounding areas. Not so now. Now ambulances are being deployed 30, 40, 50 miles to a ‘red call’.

“With fuel costs at around �7 a gallon, this is costing a fortune. Keep crews local.”

Backing the call, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said local crews would be able to forge stronger links with A&E departments at their local hospitals.

“Local crews would be able to build up stronger working relationships with hospital staff, making handover times quicker. There are a lot of advantages.

“The management of the ambulance service has been failing for a number of years, it is time they listened to their frontline staff, if they had, they probably would not be in the mess they are today.”

Chief executive of EEAST, Hayden Newton said: “We have progressed to a far more sophisticated and precise method of resource allocation to improve response times for the benefit of our patients.

“This system of ‘dynamic deployment’ means that vehicles are stationed at optimum locations for the quickest possible responses.

“Crews do work within a local area and have local knowledge as well as the advantage of sat navs on all vehicles.

“Local managers enjoy a very good working relationship with hospitals and liaise closely with them to keep handover times as short as possible.”

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