Long ambulance delays are becoming ‘rarer’, says Suffolk MP

Ambulance delays

Ambulance delays - Credit: Archant

Long ambulance delays are becoming rarer and rarer, a Suffolk MP has claimed after meeting East of England Ambulance Service bosses in Westminster.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey was joined by the region’s MPs to quiz the chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, Anthony Marsh, and chairman Sarah Boulton.

Ambulances in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire responded to the most life-threatening calls faster than at any time this year in October, but are still below target.

Health chiefs put the missed targets down to warmer weather, Halloween, half-term, strikes, sickness and vacancies.

Response times at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) for the most urgent calls, known as “Red 1”, reached their highest point this year for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, with 70% of calls responded to within eight minutes.

Dr Coffey said the recruitment of new paramedics was taking place, adding: “When I was first alerted to poor response times in 2011, the ambulance service was hitting its regional targets which masked the poor rural response times and dysfunctional service. One of the most important aspects of the turnaround so far is that the long ambulance delays are becoming rarer and rarer.”

“Under the strong leadership of Dr Anthony Marsh, the service has already recruited over 400 new student paramedics this year rising to over 500 by April 2015.

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“University Campus Suffolk has been accredited to train paramedics and will start its first courses in March 2015. Alongside the extra frontline staff has been the investment in double-staffed ambulances.

“By March there will be no ambulances more than five years old, increasing reliability and strengthening capacity.”

“Dr Marsh has said that the full turnaround of the service is another year away, but we can see that real progress is already being made. My colleagues and I will continue to press the case for a better service to ensure east of England patients get the service they deserve.”

Chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, Dr Anthony Marsh, said: “I was delighted to be able to update our MPs on the improvements in our service and the significant progress we have made this year, which are as a result of our hardworking staff on the frontline and in our control rooms. By the end of April 2015, more than 600 student and graduate paramedics will be working on ambulances in the east of England. This, alongside the new ambulances and equipment we’ve already put in place, will build on our already improving performance and, more importantly, the service we provide to our patients.”