Ambulance chiefs' pledge over response times

AMBULANCE chiefs have pledged to continue to find ways to improve performance after failing to achieve its emergency call-out response targets.

A report revealed that in October the South Western Ambulance Service had achieved the eight-minute response time in 71.68 per cent of the most urgent calls, missing the target of 75 per cent.

The most urgent calls, or ‘red 1 calls’ as they are known, include cardiac arrest or life threatening tramuatic injuries.

A trust spokesman said: “South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) works extremely hard to achieve its target response times.

"Rising demand for services, particularly during winter, as well as challenging rural environments and an increasingly elderly population, all make achieving these targets incredibly difficult at times, but we will continue to find ways to improve our performance.

“SWASFT works very closely with all of the hospitals in the region to monitor and minimise handover times at emergency departments.

"SWASFT is also working hard to reduce the number of patients taken to emergency departments where this is clinically appropriate.

"Our experienced clinicians are often able to treat patients at the scene of an incident without the need to go to hospital. They can also refer patients to other healthcare settings in the community, for care better suited to their needs.

"We have trained clinicians who can offer telephone advice and referrals, both to crews and patients to make sure that get the right care in the right place.

“Handover delays are often caused by a significant increase in demand.

"When ambulances queue at hospitals they are delayed getting back out on the road to the next 999 call – that is why SWASFT will continue to work with hospitals, commissioners and the public to ensure patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time.”

The service provides emergency and urgent care across the former Avon area and Gloucestershire as well as the rest of the South West.

The enlarged trust began life in February this year after its acquisition of the Great Western Ambulance Service.

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