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East Anglia: No quick fix over ambulance service failures to meet response time targets

16:47 28 February 2013

Cromer ambulance station staff who made a stand against proposed cuts to the ambulance service last week

Cromer ambulance station staff who made a stand against proposed cuts to the ambulance service last week

Archant Norfolk 2013

HEALTH chiefs yesterday warned there was no quick fix to addressing failures at the East of England Ambulance Service after it emerged it was unlikely to hit response targets for the next two months.

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HEALTH chiefs yesterday warned there was no quick fix to addressing failures at the East of England Ambulance Service after it emerged it was unlikely to hit response targets for the next two months.

High staff sickness rates, an increase in calls this winter and hospital handover delays have led to the NHS trust failing to meet its two key targets for responding to the most urgent 999 calls, bosses said.

Members of the ambulance trust’s board met in public for the first time in 2013 yesterday and pledged to address the service’s “unacceptable” performance.

The East of England Ambulance Service, which covers six counties, announced last week that it was putting 15 extra ambulances on the roads and is recruiting almost 200 new paramedics and emergency care assistants.

But the under-fire service is failing to hit its target for reaching 75% of the most urgent cases in eight minutes and is missing another target for getting to 95% of incidents in 19 minutes.

The failure led to the health regulator – the Care Quality Commission – finding the trust non-compliant when it comes to the care and welfare of patients when it made an unannounced inspection of its Cambourne headquarters, near Cambridge, last month.

Interim chief executive Andrew Morgan yesterday told board members that improving response times was a priority.

Mr Morgan added: “We get 18,000 calls a week and that is a huge number. Some people do wait too long for an ambulance to arrive. It is not good for patients and the crew member waiting for back-up to arrive. It is a very small percentage of calls, but it could be your family or mine.”

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