Pres­sure on our am­bu­lances

Boris crit­i­cised for stand­ing by while cuts crip­pled Lon­don’s ser­vice

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Kather­ine Clemen­tine kather­ine.clemen­tine@trin­i­tymir­

HILLING­DON’S Lon­don As­sem­bly mem­ber has hit out at Boris John­son over am­bu­lance re­sponse times.

Dr Onkar Sa­hota, who rep­re­sents the Eal­ing and Hilling­don ward, joined fel­low Labour mem­bers in lay­ing the blame at the Lon­don Mayor’s door for the ser­vice miss­ing tar­gets.

Anal­y­sis of NHS data shows am­bu­lance ser­vices have failed to meet monthly tar­get re­sponse times across west Lon­don since March 2014, they said.

It fol­lows the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion’s (CQC) rec­om­men­da­tion in Novem­ber that the Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice (LAS) should be placed into spe­cial mea­sures.

Dr Sa­hota said the Mayor, who is also Uxbridge & South Ruislip’s MP, should have lob­bied for LAS sup­port fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment cuts.

“At a time when our cap­i­tal’s re­silience could be tested by any­thing from a deadly virus out­break to a ma­jor ter­ror­ist in­ci­dent, we need to know our am­bu­lance ser­vice is equipped and ready to re­spond.

“There’s lit­tle doubt that the cri­sis fac­ing our am­bu­lance ser­vice is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of un­der­fund­ing and un­der­staffing, which has had a wor­ry­ing im­pact on re­sponse times in Hilling­don.”

Am­bu­lances are ex­pected to re­spond to the most se­ri­ous in­ci­dents within eight min­utes on 75 per cent of call outs, in line with na­tional tar­gets, but the LAS has failed to meet this tar­get across the cap­i­tal since April 2014. LAS has to find sav­ings of £53m by 2016 at a time when av­er­age monthly re­sponse times have dipped from 75 per cent in 2010 to just 65 per cent by 2014.

Dr Sa­hota claimed the Mayor had ‘ paid lit­tle at­ten­tion to our warn­ings’ and that Lon­don’s high cost of liv­ing and gov­ern­ment cuts were making it in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to re­cruit and re­tain staff.

He added: “In­stead of stand­ing up for the needs of Lon­don­ers and lob­by­ing for sup­port for the LAS, Boris John­son has sat idly by and shame­fully al­lowed the ser­vice to reach cri­sis point.”

The Mayor of Lon­don’s of­fice said he had dis­cussed the is­sues raised within the CQC re­port with LAS chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Fionna Moore and Dr Anne Rains­berry, re­gional di­rec­tor for Lon­don at NHS Eng­land.

A spokesper­son added: “The Mayor is sup­port­ive of the Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice’s plans to make the nec­es­sary im­prove­ments high­lighted in the re­port.

“He will con­tinue to seek as­sur­ances that ev­ery ef­fort will be taken to build on the com­mit­ment of staff and that re­sources and sup­port are in place and prop­erly man­aged, to en­sure the ser­vice is fit for the 21st cen­tury.”

n PRES­SURE: Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice

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