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West Suffolk paramedics miss 999 call response target for life-threatening illnesses by more than 10%

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 March 2017

East of England Ambulance Service. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

East of England Ambulance Service. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

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Ambulance crews responding to life-threatening emergencies like heart attacks and strokes are failing to meet targets in Suffolk and Essex, new figures show.

Paramedics are expected to react and arrive at the most serious emergencies, known as red one calls, within eight minutes.

The regional target for this, agreed by commissioners and paramedics, currently stands at 68.5%.

During January 2017, response times for clinical commissioning groups in Ipswich and east Suffolk, west Suffolk and mid Essex show ambulance crews in these areas are all failing to meet such targets.

West Suffolk was the worst of all – with just over half (57.14%) of calls being responded to within eight minutes.

Just a month earlier, in December 2016, the area achieved 72% meaning its performance has fallen by 15% in just four weeks.

Only one area – north east Essex – achieved the regional response time target with 72.27% of emergencies being responded to in the eight-minute window.

Crews in Ipswich and east Suffolk also fell short of the target at 67%, while mid Essex paramedics achieved 65.5%.

Health bosses say the low numbers are partly down to crews being called to a very high number of critically ill patients over the past few months.

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) spokeswoman said: “However, we are getting to more of these patients quicker now than a year ago and are supporting many more of our callers with clinical telephone advice to meet their needs.

“Our staff and volunteers make essential individual contributions to patient outcomes every single day, and are the driving force behind our ambition to provide the best possible responses to our communities.

“As always, we ask that we are only called in an emergency and would like to remind the public that the services of 111, GPs, pharmacists and walk in centres provide excellent advice and treatment.”

The spokeswoman also said EEAST is not commissioned to achieve national standards – which currently stands at 75% – at CCG level.

The performance target is a regional aggregate – and the trajectory agreed with commissioners at the moment is 68.5%.

The trust does not have enough resources to deliver national standards, she added, and that is why the NHS is set to review their capacity in 2017/2018.

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