Figures show the ambulance service is missing targets for most serious emergency calls in west Suffolk


- Credit: Archant

The continued failure of the ambulance service to meet targets for getting to the most serious emergency calls in west Suffolk has been described as “really, really disappointing”.

All ambulance services are set the target of responding to 75% of top level emergency calls, classified Red 1 and Red 2 and which include cardiac arrests, life threatening injuries and serious stokes, within eight minutes.

But figures released to this paper under the Freedom of Information Act show not only has EEAST missed this target across the county since 2012, the percentage of calls it does get to in the required time has fallen year-on-year.

Data for Suffolk is split into its two clinical commissioning group (CCG) areas, West Suffolk, and Ipswich and East Suffolk.

The former has seen the percentage of Red 1 and Red 2 calls reached within eight minutes fall from 65.21% in 2012 to 56.94% by December 10, 2014.

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Ipswich and East Suffolk the fall was from 70.16% to 59.82% over the same period.

Sara Mildmay-White, cabinet member for health and communities at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, said: “I know they have been struggling to meet the target and it’s really, really disappointing, but other areas are in exactly the same situation I think.

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“All I can say is I know they are working hard to achieve nearer the target they should be.”

Mrs Mildmay-White, who sits on Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board and is on the Council of Governors at West Suffolk Hospital, said people needed to think about whether they needed A&E or it could wait until after the weekend before dialling for an ambulance.

When Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), took over in the role at the beginning of last year he said it would take two years to turn the struggling service around.

Now Dr Poulter, junior health minister and MP for central Suffolk and north Ipswich, has said he believes this is still possible given investment in front line services.

“I fought a long campaign to raise awareness and ensure parts of rural Suffolk receive more resources from the ambulance service.

“We did know it was going to be a two-year turn around and we did know historically there has been some very bad management at the trust.

He added: “There are 300 more paramedics being trained at the moment but this takes time, it’s not an overnight process. That is something that means we will see the responses improve.”

PANEL - What EEAST had to say

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “We know that our response times in Suffolk are not where we want them to be and that is why we are working hard to improve them.

“When our CEO Dr Anthony Marsh took post he made it clear it would take two years to create the performance recovery we need and it has only been 12 months.

“One of the issues is that we simply do not have enough paramedics to meet the increasing demand and to help change this we’re recruiting over 400 student paramedics and putting new ambulances out on the roads as well as up skilling existing staff.

“More than 200 student paramedics are either in training or already out on the road responding to emergencies.

“We have also put our over 200 new emergency ambulances across the region in the past year with 60 more to follow by spring.

“These include extra ambulances in Thetford, Saxmundham, Felixstowe and Ipswich.

“This is all helping us to make significant progress against huge increases in activity and a background of long hospital handover delays and in particular patients are not waiting as long for a response as they did a year ago which is a big step in the right direction for patient care.”

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