Essex: Ambulance trust misses response time targets for most serious calls


Ambulance. - Credit: Archant

Ambulances in Essex are failing to hit Government-set response times for the most serious calls.

During the last three weeks of August and the first week of this month an ambulance only got to the scene of an immediately life-threatening incident within eight minutes 69.7% of the time, instead of for three-quarters of calls.

An ambulance also only arrived within eight minutes for 60.2% of serious calls, the next incident rating, against a 75% national standard.

The figures are part of a review of the service in Essex due to be discussed by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust board during a meeting tomorrow.

However the data does reveal the trust met some response times for less serious incidents, and says cover for V Festival in Chelmsford during August did move some resources away from elsewhere in the community.

The response rates are also in line with what the trust hoped to achieve as part of its performance improvement plan as it moves towards full health.

Under the plan, ambulances in Essex won’t reach the national response time standard for serious calls until next month, and will miss the target in December.

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While the trust attempts to tackle a region-wide shortage of paramedics in the long-term by upskilling existing staff and commissioning more university places, in Essex managers have focused on providing double-staffed ambulances (those with two health workers on board) instead of rapid response cars.

Equipment from the rapid response vehicles has also been reassigned to new ambulances.

Anthony Marsh, trust chief executive, said, “I recognise that we are not delivering the levels of service to patients that we should be. This is due to having a lack of paramedics.

“That is why when I started in January I launched a programme to recruit hundreds of new frontline staff, as well as bringing in new ambulances and equipment and cutting costs in back office and management so that more money can be invested in patient services.

“Since then, more than 220 new student paramedics have started with the trust, with another 200 to follow in the next few months.

“Turning round the service will take time, but as more staff are recruited we will start see improvements to the service we give to patients.”

A spokesman added that in Essex 82 contracts have already been offered to student paramedics.