Ambulance service to lose star status

AMBULANCE bosses last night confirmed they expect the service to lose its coveted three star status after failing to meet one of the Government targets.

By Danielle Nuttall

AMBULANCE bosses last night confirmed they expect the service to lose its coveted three star status after failing to meet one of the Government targets.

But the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust insists changes to the way performance is measured is the reason for the change, and says there has been huge improvement across the service this year.

The Health Commission has now made the 19-minute objective set for non-life threatening calls a key target, which means it counts towards the star ratings.

Rob Lawrence, director of operations, said: “We have been a maximum three-star trust since the ratings began, we have improved performance this year to life threatening and GP calls and balanced the books.

“Despite this we will probably lose a star this year, which is something of a slap in the face for all those paramedics, technicians, responders and control room staff who have worked flat out to achieve fast response to callers along with high clinical standards and earned us our three star award in the past.

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“Despite this setback, which clouds an actual improvement in performance in almost every area of our service to patients, we will not sit on our laurels and will be striving to improve our performance in this area over the coming year.”

Meanwhile, the service revealed how ambulance responses in the region had more than doubled since the trust was formed a decade ago.

In the year to the end of March 1995 just 71,700 999 responses were made, rising to 164,718 in the same period in 2005 - an increase of 129%.

In the same period, the number of paramedics and emergency medical technicians serving Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk has increased by just 34% from 534 to 717.

Mr Lawrence added: “In 1995 we were only reaching about 40% of potentially life-threatening calls within eight minutes - yet this year we have reached 76.5% in that critical time frame.” The government target is to reach 75% within eight minutes.

He added: “We've had to reinvent ourselves to provide a faster and more clinically driven service to the most seriously ill and a more appropriate service to patients with minor problems, rather than a one-size-fits-all service.”

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