TOO LONG TO WAIT FOR HELP
Ambulance targets missed for emergency call outs
LIFE or death ambulance calls are taking more than an hour to arrive depending where you live in Bucks.
A Category A call – ones that are lifethreatening – in February, took one hour and 26 minutes to arrive to an address in the HP7 postcode around Amersham.
Other calls in the same month took one hour and 26 minutes to arrive in HP5 in Chesham and one hour and nine minutes to arrive in HP21 in Aylesbury.
In HP20 in Aylesbury, a Category A call in September 2015 took three hours and 37 minutes to arrive, while one to HP21 also in Aylesbury took two hours and 51 minutes in August 2015.
HP18 in Aylesbury has the slowest average response time of any postcode that had 10 or more Category A calls in February 2016, with calls taking an average of 15 minutes and 36 seconds to arrive, according to a Freedom of Information request to the South Central Ambulance Service.
In January, South Central Ambulance service responded to 71.9 per cent of Red 1 calls within eight minutes or less, along with 71.4 per cent of Red 2 calls.
HP20 had the fastest average response time for 10 or more Red 1 calls, with the 114 calls to the postcode in February taking an average of six minutes and 34 seconds.
National targets are set by the Department of Health. The targets ensure the Trust is measured against the percentage of calls responded to in eight
or 19 minutes depending on the priority of call with Category A calls measured as the highest priority.
Category A calls are subdivided into Red 1 calls covering response to patients with critical conditions which are measured against an eight minute response time, and Red 2 calls where the condition is less critical but still measured against an eight minute response. All other red calls are measured against a 19 minute response.
Across England, 70.5 per cent of Red 1 calls were responded to within eight minutes in May, the 12th month in a row in which the standard of 75 per cent has not been met.
As well as this, 65 per cent of Red 2 calls were responded to in eight minutes. This standard has not been met since January 2014.
Chesham’s mayor and member of Bucks County Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC) Noel Brown said he had been keeping an eye on the issue for some years, particularly around Chalfont St Peter.
“The ambulance service was often in breach of the terms of their contract over response times. These early challenges got a small change in the organisation of local services, with some improvement, but it remains a weakness.
“So we have made sure the ambulance service has reported to the HASC at least annually, which gives us the chance to challenge them on their actual response time against their targets, and some of the unfortunately long delays.
“Thankfully they are not very often, but if it is you or your family it is distressing for something we should be able to rely on.
Councillor Brian Roberts, chairman of the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “The public has every right to expect delays to be kept to a minimum, especially in the most serious emergencies.” He said he planned to raise the figures with managers at the next committee.
South Central Ambulance was unavailable for comment as we went to press.