Trust warns against more ambulance callout delays

Ambulance service bosses are preparing themselves for more pressure
Ambulance service bosses are preparing themselves for more pressure

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THE trust providing ambulance cover in Hampshire says it is preparing itself for further pressure on the service.

South Central Ambulance Service’s (Scas) latest board meeting shows it breached the national benchmarks for attending emergency calls during October to December (quarter three).

NHS guidelines say for cardiac or life-threatening traumatic injuries, calls should be responded to within eight minutes, 75 per cent of the time.

Scas achieved this 70.7 per cent of the time.

For serious breathing problems or suspected stroke, patients should also be seen in eight minutes, 75 per cent of the time. Scas hit 72.3 per cent.

Category 19 calls, where a patient must have an ambulance with them within 19 minutes, must be achieved 95 per cent of the time, and for Scas this was 94.4 per cent.

In his report, chief executive Will Hancock said that quarters one and two of this financial year saw high demand and that along with A&E pressure has affected quarter three.

He said: ‘Quarter three was further exacerbated by extensive hospital handover delays caused by the pressures on emergency departments.

‘I fully expect quarter four will be equally, if not more challenging, with uncertainty around volumes of activity and adverse winter weather and 
ongoing resource issues linked to the national shortage of paramedics.

‘In terms of the latter, an overtime incentive scheme remains in place to ensure we continue to have high participation levels from staff.

‘We’re working extensively with NHS organisations, including providers and commissioners, to try and build further resilience into the healthcare system, and a particular focus for us is engaging with emergency departments to try and eradicate the queuing problems.’

As revealed in The News, in 69 days between November 3 and January 11 this year, 1,289 ambulances were held up at Queen Alexandra Hospital’s A&E department, for more than half an hour, compared to only six in Southampton.

The hold-ups can effect response times to other 999 calls.

Think twice before you call an ambulance

PEOPLE are being reminded of other health services available for matters that are not life-threatening.

Will Hancock, chief executive of South Central Ambulance Service, said: ‘Our staff remain extremely busy and will be working hard to get to all our patients, especially those with the most life threatening conditions.

‘We are urging the public to use our services appropriately and only call 999 if absolutely essential.

‘If you are suffering an injury or illness which is non-life-threatening, please seek alternative avenues of care, such as NHS 111, pharmacies, GPs or walk-in centres and minor injuries units.’