Berwick ambulance response times beat the national standard

Ambulance chiefs have hit back at claims the service is prioritising financial targets ahead of operational targets.

Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 7:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 25th January 2017, 10:30 am
Ambulance in Berwick

The claim was made by Cllr Gavin Jones, a former governor of North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), in last week’s Berwick Advertiser.

But NEAS chief operating officer, Paul Liversidge, responded: “I would argue that it is a responsibility for all organisations to balance their books and not live beyond their means. However, this has not prevented us from ensuring we provide the best patient care possible.”

Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer at North East Ambulance Service.

He revealed that, in December, NEAS responded to 80% of the most serious life-threatening calls in the Berwick area within eight minutes; against a national standard of 75%.

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The trust was recently rated ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission which also commented upon a positive patient-centred culture; the significant effort to recruit; learning from incidents; and improving policies, systems and processes.

“The CQC also recognised the current challenges we face in achieving performance,” said Mr Liversidge. “This is a difficulty we face in common with ambulance trusts across the country; particularly relating to increased demand on 999 and delays in handover of patients at hospital.

“We are still reaching around 370 potentially life-threatening incidents within eight minutes – a figure we were achieving three years’ ago when our performance standard exceeded the national targets.

Paul Liversidge, chief operating officer at North East Ambulance Service.

“The difference now is that a greater proportion of the 999 incidents we attend are assessed as being potentially life-threatening. This means that less serious incidents which are not immediately life-threatening sometimes have a longer wait for an ambulance. None of us believe that this outcome is right for patients, which is why we have been working closely with other ambulance trusts in the UK and NHS England to address this issue.

“Cllr Jones also claims that we have scaled down reliance on third party support. However, he resigned as a governor of our Trust last November after only nine months in post and so will not be aware that in recent months we have used third party providers to top up our resources. As a result, we have deployed up to 32,200 hours of emergency and urgent ambulance cover each week. This is in excess of 102% of our scheduled resource cover to support patients and the NHS through a difficult winter period.”

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