Town hall chiefs want ambulance wait time action
COUNCIL bosses have called for an overhaul of ambulance services after it was revealed emergency patients in Cheshire East face some of the longest waiting times.
A report shows that ambulances are not getting to emergency patients in Cheshire East quickly enough. North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is failing to meet government targets which require ambulances to get to at least 75 per cent of ‘Red 1’ calls – those with the most life-threatening illnesses – in eight minutes.
Cheshire East is the third-worst area in the North West, well below urban areas of Manchester and Liverpool.
The trust has failed to hit the target in most months since April 2014, with the percentage of patients reached within eight minutes dipping as low as 40pc in December 2014.
Councillors on Cheshire East’s Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee have been monitoring the performance and decided to carry out a review when they saw Cheshire East was being left behind other parts of the North West.
Now the committee has issued 19 recommendations to the Department of Health and NHS England.
Coun Jos Saunders, chairman of the committee and councillor for Poynton East and Pott Shrigley, said people in rural areas deserve equal access to emergency services.
Coun Hilda Gaddum, who represents Sutton, said: “The ambulance service covers a huge area and you can feel forgotten on the perimeter in a place like Sutton. I’m concerned there are not enough ambulances for the large rural areas.”
The report asks The Department of Health and NHS England to overhaul how ambulance trusts are monitored.
Coun Laura Jeuda, a health committee member who represents Macclesfield South, said: “I don’t like targets, the time has come to re-examine how we monitor ambulances. We should be looking at how many lives are being saved.”
MP David Rutley said: “I’m pleased the council has highlighted this important issue and is working with North West Ambulance Service to see much needed improvements. I think it’s vitally important that steps are taken to improve response times in important emergencies.”
A spokesman for NWAS said: “Over the past year the Trust has seen a significant increase in the number of Red (lifethreatening) calls over the last year (33pc compared to 2014/15), which presently shows no signs of slowing down. Meeting national performance times in rural areas is always a challenge due to the distances our resources have to travel and so we are constantly reviewing our performance and developing new models of working to improve our capacity to respond that will provide qualitative care in local communities. One of these is the increase in our ‘hear and treat’ and ‘see and treat’ initiatives which enables patients who don’t necessarily require an emergency ambulance or hospital admission to receive the treatment or advice they need safely within their own home.
“Additionally, we have also introduced community specialist paramedics, paramedics who are based in the local community (often in GP sur- gery locations) where they can bring real benefits to the local population. This is a relatively new initiative but is already well established and proving successful with two paramedics currently working within East Cheshire.
“We worked in partnership and actively engaged with Cheshire East Council in helping them compile this report that shows a comprehensive review of ambulance services.
“Our staff provided information and undertook discussions to outline some of the current issues and we are very pleased that the council is taking such a proactive approach.
“We continue to look forward to working together with them, the local health economy, our emergency partners and stakeholders to improve services for our patients in East Cheshire.”
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