Ambulance service hits back at criticism

AN AMBULANCE service has branded national figures on urgent patient journeys as "misleading".East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust attacked a Liberal Democrat survey, which said that 87.

AN AMBULANCE service has branded national figures on urgent patient journeys as "misleading".

East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust attacked a Liberal Democrat survey, which said that 87.5% of ambulance services are missing their targets for urgent patient journeys into hospital.

Ambulances are meant to arrive no more than 15 minutes late for 95% of the urgent journeys they make. These are cases where a GP, dentist, nurse or other health professional tells the crew to take a seriously ill person to hospital within a certain time limit – which differs depending on the circumstances.

The survey shows that an average of only 85.9% of the East Anglian service's urgent patient journeys made between April 1, 2002 and March 31, 2003 arrived no more than 15 minutes late.


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But Paul Sutton, director of operations for the trust, said the figures for this year show that 90.5% of these journeys are now arriving within the time limit, despite the trust only being funded to achieve 85%.

Furthermore the trust said it has recovered from its poor performance figures for 2000, which showed that less than 60% of cases were arriving within time.

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Mr Sutton said: "This means that 38,640 patients are arriving at hospital on time this year as opposed to 18,900 in 2000, an increase of 19,740."

He said the public should be reassured about the improvement in their emergency service rather than mistakenly having their confidence knocked.

"It shows the year on year improvement in emergency and urgent performance which has now put East Anglia in the top five performing trusts in the country.

"Given that this has been achieved against a 30% rise in emergency activity and in the most rural trust in the country, it is reassuringly good news," he added.

Dr Evan Harris MP, Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary, said: "A speedy ambulance service can quite often mean the difference between life and death for the patient. Whilst it is good news that the East Anglian Ambulance service is improving, the national figures paint a bleak picture.

"A 12.5% success rate for ambulances arriving within target times is deeply disappointing for patients, depressing for ambulance staff and disastrous for Government credibility."

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