Ambulance merger 'will not hit targets'

A LEADING figure at the region's ambulance service has pledged a record set of emergency response time figures will not be affected by any impending merger.

A LEADING figure at the region's ambulance service has pledged a record set of emergency response time figures will not be affected by any impending merger.

Rob Lawrence, director of operations for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, assured performance levels would not drop if a proposed amalgamation between six counties gets the go-ahead.

He was speaking after the organisation announced that patients in East Anglia received the fastest ever response from the ambulance service last year.

According to the figures, which were released yesterday, the average response to all types of 999 call for the 12 months ending March 31 was eight minutes and 14 seconds, compared with eight minutes and 59 seconds the previous year.


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Meanwhile, the key target of arriving at more than 75% of life-threatening calls was achieved for the fourth consecutive year, with a figure of 75.71%.

This was in spite of a steep rise in demand, which had leapt from 79,000 calls 10 years ago to 179,959 in 2005.

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Mr Lawrence said: “We are lucky in the east of England because we have three ambulance services that are all top performing organisations and in other parts of the country I'm not quite sure if it is the same picture.

“If the services are to be merged together I don't see why this would change and from a patient perspective I have no real concerns if an amalgamation gets the go-ahead.

“If the final decision is to stay separate then I am optimistic but if the decision is to merge I still believe we will have the same high quality service as we do now.”

At present there are three ambulance trusts in the region - Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire are covered by one, Essex by another and Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire by the third.

The new proposal is to merge all six into a new supra-organisation that would cover the whole of the region.

Mr Lawrence said the consultation period on the plans had now finished and the trust was awaiting a decision from the Department of Health some time in May.

Speaking about this year's emergency response times, he said the results were down to the hard work of staff and the use of new technology.

“We have only been able to achieve this by combining great levels of commitment from our staff with changing working practices,” he said.

“From our hi-tech control centre to the use of rapid response vehicles, community paramedics and community first response schemes, every aspect of what we do has been thoroughly modernised in the past decade.

“This has enabled us to make sure that more people than ever before get potentially life-saving treatment on scene quickly.”

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