Ambulance statistics blow as response times fall short

PUBLISHED: 10:00 18 July 2011

Toys banned from ambulances due to health and safety restrictions.

Toys banned from ambulances due to health and safety restrictions.

Archant

FIGURES which showed Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) as one of the worst performing in England for response times have been described as a 'kick in the teeth' by a staff representative.

The statistics released by the NHS, revealed the service reached 74.3 per cent of life-threatening category A 999 calls within eight minutes between April 2010 and March 2011, against a target of 75 per cent.

In the Avon sector, which includes North Somerset, crews got to emergency calls in just 73.3 per cent of cases within the time.

The service, however, has been hit by an ongoing threat of industrial action by staff following a dispute over a change in working patterns.

But Unison steward and paramedic, Chris Hewett, said: “This news is deeply disappointing to our patients and a real kick in the teeth for all ambulance staff who make daily sacrifices to provide the best possible service we can.

“GWAS management has said this failure was due to bad weather, however, our communities should ask themselves whether it takes a rocket scientist to predict that bad weather will happen in the winter.

“These figures show how urgent it is to resolve the ongoing industrial unrest and Unison and GWAS need to work hard to resolve it.”

The new statistics will come as a blow to the service, which had improved its performance from 68.4 per cent two years ago to the targeted 75 per cent last year.

GWAS chief executive Martin Flaherty said: “Clearly it is disappointing that we fell just short of the national standard.

“I am confident that GWAS has made further, significant progress towards becoming a consistently first class healthcare organisation.

“While speed of response to 999 calls is certainly important in immediately life-threatening situations, it is by no means the only requirement. The clinical care we provide to our patients is also measured and it is reassuring that we can continue to improve.”

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