Suffolk: Ambulance chiefs told to ‘get a grip’ on response times
AMBULANCE bosses have been urged to “get a grip” on delays affecting emergency responses to patients from across the region.
MPs were briefed at Westminster by Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors, who are said to have spoken to whistleblowers and patients during their unannounced inspection of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).
The CQC is expected to publish their report on the inspection, which examined delays in rural response times and turnaround times at hospitals, in early March.
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey, who arranged Monday’s meeting, said concerns were voiced to senior CQC inspectors.
She said: “This is not about criticising frontline staff or accusing the leadership of not doing their best for patients, but it is important we get to the bottom of the issues.
“The number of MPs that attended the meeting shows that it is a matter of huge concern and the trust needs to get a grip of performance.”
The CQC carries out unannounced inspections at all trusts each year. Dr Coffey added she will be meeting with the chairman and interim chief executive of the EEAST on March 14 to discuss the content of the CQC’s report.
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Concerned paramedics have also hit out at changes to East Anglia’s ambulance service, which they believe are designed to meet targets which ‘hide’ delays in getting to patients.
A group of concerned frontline ambulance staff have started a campaign calling for the Department of Health to change its A19 target, ensuring that rapid response vehicles (RRVs) do not count in the 95% target for arriving at the most critically ill or injured patients within 19 minutes.
The paramedics say that the RRVs are mostly unable to transport the category A patients in a clinically safe manner to hospital, and have written to nearly 450 MPs asking for backing.
They say that through Freedom of Information requests they can show the East of England Ambulance Service has transported less than 7% of category A patients in RRVs between November 2011 and October 2012, yet all arriving first on scene were deemed as fulfilling the target, regardless of any delay on getting a backup ambulance.
An EEAST spokesman said A19 is a national standard set for all ambulance trusts.
He added interim chief executive Andrew Morgan would be “very happy” to meet up with representatives from the ChangeA19 group to discuss any of the issues further. Last month Mr Morgan wrote to Priti Patel, MP for Witham, saying he believed the target should be reviewed nationally.