Ambulance chief refuses to chase 999 target times

By Ian Dipple Friday 31 January 2014 Updated: 31/01 10:02

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THE HEAD of the region’s ambulance service says he will not go chasing after targets if it means patients suffer as a result.

Anthony Marsh, chief executive for West Midlands Ambulance Service, was responding to concerns from councillors about the service’s performance against key response time targets.

The service should respond to 75 per cent of red category 1 - such as patients suffering a cardiac arrest - or 75 per cent of red category 2 calls - which covers conditions such as strokes - within eight minutes.

About 40 per cent of the 3,000 emergency calls West Midlands Ambulance Service receives every day are red 2 calls.

Across the region so far this year 80 per cent of red 1 calls have been answered within the set time and 74.1 per cent of red 2 calls.

But performance varies across the region and figures show between April and November in Redditch and Bromsgrove just 73.15 per cent of category 1 calls and 72.98 per cent of category 2 calls were answered within the target time.

It has recently been revealed the service faces being fined £3million if performance is not improved.

But Mr Marsh told Worcestershire’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee missing the target by one per cent could mean they were outside the eight-minute time by just 20 seconds and the important thing was ensuring an appropriate response time for all those who dialled 999 and not just focusing on a target.

“What’s really important for me is we don’t have patients waiting too long for ambulances. 20 seconds on a red 2 call no-one will feel the difference, but say for example someone has fallen, broken their leg and is waiting over an hour or longer for an ambulance they will feel that, that to me is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“We are not going to achieve the target and miss the point, we need to provide the best service for our patients.”

Mr Marsh added he had also listened to concerns about the Make Ready scheme, which sees ambulances based from central hubs in Worcester and Bromsgrove where they are cleaned and stocked ready to respond to 999 calls from community ambulance stations in various towns.

As a result some ambulances will start and finish their day in Redditch and continue to be based in the town when not responding to calls, rather than returning to the hub as originally planned.

It was also confirmed new sites for community ambulance station sites have been chosen in Burnt Meadow Road in Moons Moat and Clews Road in Oakenshaw.

An offer has been made on the existing ambulance station in Cedar Park Road but it will not be sold and continue to be used until the new system is fully established.

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