Ambulance service hitting 999 targets

ESSEX Ambulance Service hit its target for reaching the most serious emergency calls during May, despite it being one of the busiest months on record.The hot weather earlier in the month had led to a large increase in calls, but the Bank Holiday weekend took the number of incidents dealt with in a single day to a new high.

ESSEX Ambulance Service hit its target for reaching the most serious emergency calls during May, despite it being one of the busiest months on record.

The hot weather earlier in the month had led to a large increase in calls, but the Bank Holiday weekend took the number of incidents dealt with in a single day to a new high.

Saturday, with 518 incidents, was the busiest day of 2004 so far with call numbers being higher than any time since the peak Christmas period of 2003.

Despite this, the trust arrived at 75.54% of Category A calls - those that are emergency life threatening- within eight minutes. The Government target is 75%.


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Ambulance chief executive Anthony Marsh said the number of Category A calls dealt with in May this year was 85% up on May 2003 - 3,293 calls as opposed to 1,780 last year. Overall, demand was up by almost 19% on last year - 15,397 calls as opposed to 12,950 in May 2003.

He said: "The fact that we managed to achieve our target against such a backdrop is a credit to the staff throughout the service. 

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"The crews have pulled out all the stops, as have the staff in our emergency operations centre. They have been working exceptionally hard to deal with the huge increase in call numbers and to despatch the right resources to each incident. The people of Essex should be proud of them.

"Our funding settlement this year has meant that we have been able to increase the number of rapid response vehicles on the road and the number of hours that ambulances are available."

He added that by September the service would have approximately 100 extra staff on the road, would continue to increase the number of paramedics and introduce the new role of emergency care practitioner.

He said: "The continued large rise in incidents is a cause for concern and so far we have not been able to identify any clear reasons for it.

"We are confident that we will be able to manage the increase but we require the people of Essex to play their part.

"In a real emergency, do not hesitate to call 999, but in other cases, please think whether you really need an ambulance.

"Every inappropriate call we receive diverts an ambulance or paramedic vehicle away from people who desperately need our help and may put other lives at risk."

Last month a major overhaul of the system was announced, owing to the huge increase in calls and the fact only a fifth of them are classed as genuine. The service is now consulting the public about its plans not to automatically send an ambulance after a 999 call but, if appropriate, to book an appointment with a GP or give out the number for NHS direct instead.

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