TOO LONG TO WAIT FOR HELP

Am­bu­lance tar­gets missed for emer­gency call outs

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - by Camilla Good­man and Claire Miller camilla.good­man@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @Camil­la_Good­man

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.

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