Ambulance service misses callout targets

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New figures show that ambulances fail to reach a third of the most serious emergencies within the target time.

The ambulance trust which covers Northamptonshire has recorded the worst response times to serious emergencies for the fourth month in a row.

Figures for responses to the most serious Category A calls show that in November East Midlands Ambulance Service (Emas) NHS Trust only managed to get to 66.1 per cent of the 1,953 calls within the eight-minute target. The trust also recorded the worst response times for Category A calls in August, September and October last year.

The proportion of Category A calls resulting in an ambulance arriving within eight minutes is 73.1 per cent in England. The service with the best response rate is Isle of Wight NHS Trust, which answered 81.3 per cent of its 16 Category A calls in the target time.

The next worst after Emas is North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, which answered 72 per cent of its 2,719 Category A calls in eight minutes. Five trusts failed to achieve the target of 75 per cent of Category A calls being responded to within eight minutes.

Emas also failed to reach the target of 95 per cent of Category A calls receiving an ambulance capable of transporting a patient within 19 minutes of the request for transport being made.

In a statement Emas said: “During November we received high demand levels with ‘red responses’ [crews travelling to patients reported to be in a life-threatening condition] increasing five per cent compared to the same month in 2011.

“In a report which went to the Emas trust board in December, key actions to help improve our performance included: senior management changes, including creation of a chief operating officer post; transfer of procurement to the director of finance and performance; additional funding to be invested in additional frontline crews and support in the emergency operations centre; continue to work with colleagues on hospital turnaround times and employment of additional emergency care assistants to work alongside more qualified members of the ambulance team, giving support and help to enable them to provide patients with potentially life-saving care at the scene and getting patients to hospital as fast as possible.”

Emas is currently consulting over plans to axe a number of ambulance stations and replace them with standby points. It wants to set up 13 regional hubs – including one in Kettering – to replace the current 66 ambulance stations. Under the proposals, there also would be 118 new community ambulance posts and standby points. The final proposals will be published on March 25.