'Still much more to do': Ambulance chief on Suffolk response times

The East of England Ambulance Service chief says there is "still much more to do" to cut response times in Suffolk.

The East of England Ambulance Service chief says there is "still much more to do" to cut response times in Suffolk. - Credit: SIMON PARKER

The boss of ambulance services in Suffolk says there is "still much more to do" to cut response times for serious incidents in the county.

Concerns had previously been raised about how long East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) ambulances were taking to arrive at the second most serious category of callouts, such as strokes or chest pain. 

According to NHS England data, in December 2021 it had an average response time of 61 minutes to these incidents.

The government target is to respond to them in an average of 18 minutes and to respond to 90% of them within 40 minutes.

In January this year, the trust had cut its response time to an average of 46 minutes.

Earlier this week Therese Coffey, Suffolk Coastal MP, praised the service for its plans to cut response times saying there was "great work happening on the frontline".

Therese Coffey MP meeting Tom Abell Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Trust at Saxmundham Ambulance Station

Therese Coffey MP meeting Tom Abell Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Trust at Saxmundham Ambulance Station - Credit: OFFICE OF THERESE COFFEY

Tom Abell, chief executive of EEAST, said: “I was pleased to meet with Dr Coffey to discuss service provision within her constituency and the improvements which we have been making across the region.

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“This includes nearly doubling the number of call handlers we employ and basing specialist practitioners in our control rooms so that we can respond to emergencies quickly while directing appropriate calls to other sources of help.

“In addition, we are working closely with hospitals to reduce handover times where possible by developing cohorting at some of our hospitals so that our crews can get back on the road more quickly.

"A specialist mobile stroke unit is also in place in east Suffolk, which helps to make sure patients can receive fast access to the best possible treatment, in turn improving their chances of making a good recovery.

“Although this work is having a positive impact, we appreciate there is still much more to do and will continue to liaise closely with our partners and stakeholders to make further improvements over the coming months and communicate progress made.”

Jean Bouverie, chief executive of the Stroke Association, previously told this newspaper: "We know that time lost is brain lost, because when you’re having a stroke over 1.9 million brain cells die every minute.

"Ambulance delays means delays or missed chances for treatment which cause avoidable disability and even death for some stroke patients."