AMBULANCE SERVICE FAILURES: Cameron tells managers to sort out failure to meet response times

South Central Ambulance Service failed to meet targets

Prime Minister David Cameron described response times from ambulances in his West Oxfordshire constituency as “not acceptable”

First published in News
Last updated
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PRIME Minister David Cameron has told ambulance managers they must sort out failures to get to patients in his constituency with life-threatening conditions.

South Central Ambulance Service has not met targets to get to three-quarters of the most urgent emergencies within eight minutes across large parts of Oxfordshire. Mr Cameron said the situation had to be “rectified as a matter of urgency”.

In Mr Cameron’s West Oxfordshire constituency, South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) has failed to meet the Government target in the past three years.

Figures revealed the situation was worst in December, when patients were only reached within eight minutes in West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire 52.8 per cent of the time.

West Oxfordshire councillors said SCAS would be called in for “a grilling”.

But SCAS said it had received unprecedented demand last year and plans to buy more ambulances.

Mr Cameron said: “Clearly the time it takes to respond to a life-threatening event is critical and measuring response times is one important indicator towards the effectiveness of the service.

“It is not acceptable that any area, rural or otherwise, suffers a disadvantage. Poor service must be rectified as a matter of urgency.”

Hilary Biles, county councillor for Chipping Norton, said: “They are appalling figures and the situation has not improved at all.”

She said SCAS was putting patients’ lives at risk and said more ambulances needed to be located in rural areas.

Mrs Biles had to wait 50 minutes for an ambulance about three years ago after her doctor called one to her home in Shipton-under-Wychwood for what she said was a life-threatening emergency.

West Oxfordshire District Council has twice issued a vote of no confidence in SCAS in the last four years.

Councillor Louise Chapman said: “We need to get someone [from the ambulance service] along for a grilling. Whether it is in a rural village or a city, a life is a life.”

Councillor Pete Handley said: “We are very, very concerned about this. It has been going on for such a long time and it is not good enough.”

In 2011/12, the ambulance service reached 68.8 per cent of patients in eight minutes in West Oxfordshire, 71.2 per cent in the Vale and 61.2 per cent in South Oxfordshire.

The previous year, 2010/11, it achieved 61.6 per cent in West Oxfordshire, 72.1 per cent in the Vale and 68 per cent in South Oxfordshire.

The eight-minute response time is a Government deadline based on getting a defibrillator to the patient. It can be done by community first responders.

The national average for immediate life-threatening responses within eight minutes was 74.8 per cent in 2012/13 to date, according to the Department of Health.

Ambulance bases are located in the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, Broadway in Didcot, Langford Lane in Kidlington and Trinity Way in Adderbury. There are also a number of standby points across the county, where ambulances can wait.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We expect every ambulance trust to look at the data for their region and make improvements to ensure they are performing at the highest level.”

SCAS spokesman James Keating-Wilkes said: “We have finite resources and deploy ambulances where they will do the most good for the most people, according to historic demand profiling.”

SCAS has one ambulance per 33,000 head of population, the equivalent of 21 ambulances serving the county,

Comments (6)

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9:57am Wed 6 Feb 13

Mark L. says...

Sorry, but you can't expect an Ambulance waiting on every street corner. We have a limited resource and expecting an Ambulance to arrive every time within eight minutes, especially in rural locations is not feasible. How many times are Ambulances called out to incidents when they are really not required. how many crank calls and time wasters tie up this valuable resource. A lot according to my best mate, who is a Paramedic.
Sorry, but you can't expect an Ambulance waiting on every street corner. We have a limited resource and expecting an Ambulance to arrive every time within eight minutes, especially in rural locations is not feasible. How many times are Ambulances called out to incidents when they are really not required. how many crank calls and time wasters tie up this valuable resource. A lot according to my best mate, who is a Paramedic. Mark L.
  • Score: 0

12:00pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Feelingsmatter says...

My brother is a paramedic, and he has noticed an increase in call-outs since this ridiculous 111 service was launched. My husband has a chest infection, with a painful chest, and 111 told him they were going to send an ambulance!! He told the operator to cancel the ambulance as he was sure he could wait until he saw his GP having only phoned the service to see whether it was worth bothering her. Cameron has a bloomin' cheek blaming the ambulance service when it's his cost-cutting brain-wave that increased the pressure on them in the first place!
My brother is a paramedic, and he has noticed an increase in call-outs since this ridiculous 111 service was launched. My husband has a chest infection, with a painful chest, and 111 told him they were going to send an ambulance!! He told the operator to cancel the ambulance as he was sure he could wait until he saw his GP having only phoned the service to see whether it was worth bothering her. Cameron has a bloomin' cheek blaming the ambulance service when it's his cost-cutting brain-wave that increased the pressure on them in the first place! Feelingsmatter
  • Score: 0

4:07pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Grunden Skip says...

Mr Cameron said: “Clearly the time it takes to respond to a life-threatening event is critical and measuring response times is one important indicator towards the effectiveness of the service.

“It is not acceptable that any area, rural or otherwise, suffers a disadvantage. Poor service must be rectified as a matter of urgency.”

So why Davey Boy, are you cutting cash, instead of increasing it to finance more ambulances and personnel. I wish those reporting these stories in the OM would make simple phone calls to the office of those involved and get answers to those simple questions If I want to read Tory Party Propaganda then I can go to their website instead.
Mr Cameron said: “Clearly the time it takes to respond to a life-threatening event is critical and measuring response times is one important indicator towards the effectiveness of the service. “It is not acceptable that any area, rural or otherwise, suffers a disadvantage. Poor service must be rectified as a matter of urgency.” So why Davey Boy, are you cutting cash, instead of increasing it to finance more ambulances and personnel. I wish those reporting these stories in the OM would make simple phone calls to the office of those involved and get answers to those simple questions If I want to read Tory Party Propaganda then I can go to their website instead. Grunden Skip
  • Score: 0

4:20pm Wed 6 Feb 13

REJG says...

If you work frontline SCAS then I say you guys do an awesome job.
Due to my personal long term medical condition I have had cause to call upon SCAS for help on numerous occassions and have nothing but respect and praise for the work that you all do.
Don't let them get you down !

Keep up the good work
Thankyou
If you work frontline SCAS then I say you guys do an awesome job. Due to my personal long term medical condition I have had cause to call upon SCAS for help on numerous occassions and have nothing but respect and praise for the work that you all do. Don't let them get you down ! Keep up the good work Thankyou REJG
  • Score: 3

10:07pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Watch your back says...

Do you notice how the local councillors suddenly start making a noise once the PM has said his piece. If these councillors noticed this last year and the year before what did they do about it.? Nothing as usual. I had reason a number of years ago to send Councillor Chapman an email complaint when she was the education portfilio holder and I am still waiting for a reply to this day, representing local people I don't think so she couldn't be bothered to answer an email.
Do you notice how the local councillors suddenly start making a noise once the PM has said his piece. If these councillors noticed this last year and the year before what did they do about it.? Nothing as usual. I had reason a number of years ago to send Councillor Chapman an email complaint when she was the education portfilio holder and I am still waiting for a reply to this day, representing local people I don't think so she couldn't be bothered to answer an email. Watch your back
  • Score: 0

1:11am Fri 15 Feb 13

BanburyExile says...

Lazy GPs, Long A&E waits to hand over patients in whats left of the A&E "Service" so thinly spread its ridiculous so who becomes the Goverment scapegoat......not the Doctors, the overworked Ambulance Service that has finite resources permanently on an overstretched state of readiness. Once highly motivated staff are being burned out by inadequate resources and loss of basic human rights like meal breaks and comfort breaks.
Lazy GPs, Long A&E waits to hand over patients in whats left of the A&E "Service" so thinly spread its ridiculous so who becomes the Goverment scapegoat......not the Doctors, the overworked Ambulance Service that has finite resources permanently on an overstretched state of readiness. Once highly motivated staff are being burned out by inadequate resources and loss of basic human rights like meal breaks and comfort breaks. BanburyExile
  • Score: 1

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