MP slates ambulance response times as ‘unacceptably long’

Ambulance scenesetter''w131422a
Ambulance scenesetter''w131422a

Serious concerns have been raised by the increase in ambulance emergency response times, exclusively uncovered by the Whitby Gazette.

Ambulance response times have increased in the YO22 area, which covers Goathland, Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby.

Robert Goodwill MP said: “These times have become unacceptably long and it is a dramatically huge increase over a very short time.”

In the YO21 area response times also saw an increase over the same period, albeit smaller, from 9 minutes 29 seconds to 11 minutes 46 seconds.

These figures relate to the first vehicle to arrive on the scene, whether it be an ambulance or one of the service’s first responder vehicles.

The figures for February 2013 offer even more alarming reading, with the average response time in both areas leaping to 18 minutes 56 seconds.

However, Yorkshire Ambulance Service say the February figure is due to a restructuring of the way emergency calls are reported, and the figures now include referrals from healthcare professionals - where an ambulance response can be up to four hours.

Between January 2012 and February 2013 the ambulance service responded to 2,894 emergency calls in both the YO21 and YO22 areas and despite the increase, the ambulance service’s deputy director of operations, David Williams, said he is pleased with the emergency response times. He said: “Our priority is providing a high-quality ambulance service in Yorkshire and we work very hard to ensure we provide a timely response to all of our patients wherever they may be.

“This is down to the efforts of the dedicated and committed management team and clinicians who work extremely hard to provide local people with a high quality, responsive ambulance service. This is complemented by our valuable network of Community First Responders who work alongside us to provide initial vital treatment to those who call upon us for help, which is especially beneficial in the more rural areas of our county.”

The information provided within a Freedom of Information request included responses to all categories of incidents, including those which are considered immediately life-threatening and those considered serious but not life threatening - known as Red and Green Calls respectively.

The ambulance service aims to respond to Red calls within 8 minutes 75 per cent of the time, and in January 2012 this was the case, with an average YO21 and YO22 response time of 5 minutes 51 seconds. However, in January 2013 this had increased to an average of 8 minutes 32 seconds - outside the service’s own targets. Mr Williams added: “Response times are not the only measure of the service we provide and we are also very proud of the excellent clinical care we provide to our patients. We are committed to making further improvements and will continue to work closely with our healthcare partners and local stakeholders for the benefit of the communities we serve.”

The ambulance service has experienced an increase in the number of call outs they have received. Between January and February 2012 the service responded to 342 calls. This year the figure increased to 426.