South Central Ambulance Service has seen nearly 6,000 incidents attended in December 2019 compared to December 2018 – an increase of 13.7 per cent – as well as an increase of 29 per cent in Category 1 life-threatening emergency incidents in the same time frame.
There has been an overall increase of 13 per cent for all categories of patients.
Scas director of operations Mark Ainsworth said: ‘Due to the increase in our own 999 demand, and the increase in demand on our acute hospitals which has seen more handover delays at hospitals this winter period than last winter, our response times are down compared to last winter, but we are still one of the better performing ambulance trusts.
‘Whilst we were not able to meet some of the response time targets set for all ambulance trusts in the month of December, looking at this financial year as a whole (April-December 2019), Scas is meeting four of the six key response time targets at a time when nationally, only one of those six targets is being met.
‘Our staff continue to work exceptionally hard in challenging circumstances, and we are increasing our workforce, rolling out new ambulances to increase our fleet and utilising our approved private provider partners to ensure we can continue providing the best possible response and highest clinical care to the patients who need us.’
Figures also show a slightly smaller proportion of 999 patients were taken to A&E compared with last winter (54.2 per cent in 2018; 52.6 per cent in 2019) but due to increase in demand, the overall number of patients taken to A&E has increased (78,338 in 2018; 83,581 in 2019).
Calls to 999 are also up from last year with a 9.3 per cent increase in October to December 2018 to the same three-month period in 2019. Calls to 111 are also up 12.5 per cent in the same
It comes after Scas thanked staff for hitting all national response time targets for incidents reported via 999 between December 20, 2019 and January 2 this year, despite an increase in demand for the same period a year ago.
The ambulance service, which serves four million people in Hampshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, also admitted last year it had a shortage of between 12 and 15 vehicles which led to some crews starting shifts without ambulances.
A review was a launched and the board said there would be a roll-out of 52 new ambulances.