Pressure on our ambulances
Boris criticised for standing by while cuts crippled London’s service
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