Worst ambulance response times of the year in Suffolk and Essex
- Credit: Archant
Ambulance response times to the most serious emergencies have dipped below the eight-minute target in areas of Suffolk and north Essex.
Under national targets, 75% of Red 1 999 calls – involving a patient with life-threatening injuries or in a life-threatening condition – should be attended by ambulance crews within eight minutes.
However, the latest operational performance report for the region shows that in the North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) area, the eight-minute target was met in 59.89% of Red 1 incidents in September, down from 73.56% in August and 82.42% in May.
In Ipswich and East Suffolk, 60.50% were attended within the target time, down from 69.47% in August and 81.32% in April.
In West Suffolk, while the figure had improved from 58.33% in April to 64.29% in September, it had decreased from 68.06% in August and 76.79% in May.
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The only CCG to be meeting the target was Great Yarmouth and Waveney, which covers part of north Suffolk, which attended 77.01% of incidents within eight minutes.
A spokesman for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk CCGs said: “Our CCGs are concerned that response times have dipped. We are working with EEAST to jointly develop an action plan to remedy these issues and deliver a timely turnaround in performance.
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“We recognise the positive changes already happening in the organisation under new chief executive Robert Morton, however, it is important that emergency response times are further improved for the benefit of patients.”
Robert Morton, announced as the new chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) in August, vowed to work hard to make the necessary improvements across the service.
Just days before he took up the post it was announced that paramedics would be based at more fire stations across Essex in a bid to improve ambulance response times after a successful pilot scheme.
However, at the end of September the service was told by its commissioners that it must make further improvements and produce a recovery plan as response times again began to drop.
Mr Morton said: “We are looking at how we manage demand and how we respond to calls. We need sustainable improvements that are good for us and patients, and create flexibility in the system to respond to peaks in demand.
“We have started working on how to better handle that demand...recruiting more clinical co-ordinators in control rooms and increase the number of patients we can treat or advise over the phone.”
Kate Vaughton, chief operating officer at North East Essex CCG, added: “The ambulance service has experienced an unprecedented year with high levels of demand on its service.
“We have looked at localities where demand is high and are focusing on ensuring patients in these areas have easier access to health and social care support.
“The system in Colchester and Tendring is working on reducing handover delays at Colchester Hospital, which can result in ambulance crews not being released to respond to further calls quickly enough.”