Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Ambulance service denies delay claims

THE ambulance service for Henley has dismissed claims that it is not meeting national targets.

A BBC investigation claimed to show that the average time for an ambulance to arrive in the town on an emergency call is more than 13 minutes.

The vehicles are supposed to respond to critically ill patients in six to eight minutes, according to national guidelines.

The figures were revealed by the BBC on Wednesday after obtaining them with a Freedom of Information request made to South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

But the trust has responded by saying it is not measured against national response times and actually performs well.

It says its average response time across the South Central region between April last year and January this year was six minutes and 56 seconds.

This makes it one of only four ambulance trusts meeting the national target to reach category one patients, those with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, in an average of under seven minutes.

Mark Ainsworth, director of operations at South Central Ambulance Service, said: “SCAS serves a very large and geographically diverse area and there will always be variances in average response times between different postcodes.

“The trust is not measured against national response time targets on individual postcode areas which have been highlighted by the BBC.

“SCAS is measured on its response times at two contract levels — one covering the whole of the Thames Valley and the second covering Hampshire.

“Rural areas are less populous and therefore there is naturally less demand than in urban areas.

“The trust uses a sophisticated forecasting model to dynamically deploy our resources across our geography to meet the needs of our patients.

“SCAS has invested in training and equipping military co-responders and fire service responders, as well as community first responders, to help deliver a high-
quality, responsive service to category one patients in rural areas that are further away from our ambulance stations, hospitals and standby points.

“Having access to such volunteers and co-responders means that early, life-saving treatment can commence on many patients while our ambulance is on route.

“According to the BBC figures, the average response time in England in rural areas is 11 minutes and 26 seconds. All of the rural OX postcodes in the figures have an average response time below this.

“Only three out of the 11 postcode areas have an average response time over 11 minutes.

“Seven areas have average response times of between eight and nine minutes and one has an average response time of under seven minutes.

“This suggests that despite the challenges of rural Oxfordshire, patients still receive a good, high-quality service from SCAS compared with some patients living in similar areas in other parts of the country.”

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