Ambulance failing targets in Suffolk

HEALTH chiefs have admitted they are concerned that the ambulance service is continuing to miss the targets for response times in Suffolk.

Monthly figures since June show that the East of England Ambulance Service is failing to reach the target of getting to 75 per cent of emergency calls within eight minutes in Suffolk. However overall the service is slightly exceeding its targets for all of the six counties in the East of England.

In Suffolk on average the service has reached just 67% of emergency calls within the eight minute target.

It also failed its targets for getting a transportation vehicle on scene within 19 minutes, reaching an average of 90.4% of calls, against the target of 95%.

For less serious calls – Category B (19 mins) – it also failed, reaching 88.6% of calls against a 95% target.


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In a performance report to be presented to the NHS Suffolk board next week, it states: “NHS Suffolk remains concerned around current local performance against the ambulance response times targets for Category ‘A’ and ‘B’ calls. This has been escalated to NHS Bedfordshire as lead commissioner for the service and taken forward through the regional contracting process.”

The ambulance service has said that the high demand and the rurality of the region has been challenging.

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Colin Walker, Suffolk Coastal District councillor who used to work in the ambulance service, said: “Our performance is not so good as the others. I would like to see an improvement. We know there is no extra money – we need the resources to be moved around.”

Prue Rush, health campaigner who lives in Fressingfield, added: “Perhaps the target that has been set is not reasonable for reaching us out in the sticks. It only takes a couple of busy periods and their targets are shot to pieces. We do not get the service we would like despite the ambulance service trying quite hard.

“As rural people we have to thank our lucky stars that we have the air ambulance.”

Earlier this year the service came under scrutiny from the Health Scrutiny Committee. Marcus Bailey, clinical general manager, explained that there were a number of initiatives in place to ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible, including an advanced caller ID system so ambulance crews can start to head in the general direction as soon as the call comes in, and community first responders, who are often the first on the scene to provide medical treatment in rural areas.

Marcus Bailey, clinical general manager for the Trust in Norfolk and Suffolk said: “We are commissioned to respond to 75% of category A calls for the most serious or life threatening emergencies within eight minutes across the eastern region. So far this year, the trust has slightly exceeded this target. Within Suffolk, we continue to work to improve performance, despite an increase in demand for our services.

“The ambulance service provides urgent and emergency care to people with serious or life threatening illness, but many of the calls we receive are about everyday problems which don’t need a 999 response. This can take our ambulances away from front line duties and have a direct impact on our response times, especially in the rural areas. We will be working with other NHS colleagues in Suffolk during the winter months to encourage people to get to know their local services better and about the alternatives to calling 999.”

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