East Lancashire ambulances missing serious response target by 50 per cent

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: Ambulance stations are understaffed, say some campaigners Ambulance stations are understaffed, say some campaigners

AMBULANCES called out on the most serious emergencies are missing their response target in more than half the wards in East Lancashire.

MP Graham Jones said ‘simply not enough resources’ were being given to the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) leaving it struggling to cope.

He said the situation had got so bad, sometimes police were taking people to A&E rather than wait for an blue light ambulance or paramedic service.

NWAS aims to respond to three-quarters of the most serious and immediately life-threatening calls within eight minutes.

But data obtained by the Lancashire Telegraph through Freedom of Information laws showed 45 out of 84 ward areas missed the target between April and September this year.

In several wards the ‘Red 1’ target was missed in more than half the incidents, including Craven and Earby, where politicians have previously highlighted the problem.

In five Ribble Valley and Pendle wards the target was missed on every occasion, although there were only a small number of calls. These were Langho, Mellor, Gisburn and Rimmington, Higham and Pendleside and Vivary Bridge.

Red 1 calls cover cardiac arrest patients who are not breathing and do not have a pulse, plus other severe conditions where treatment is needed extremely quickly.

NWAS is only contracted to deliver the 75 per cent standard across the whole region, so is able to balance the longer response times in rural areas with the quick response times in urban areas such as Blackburn, Burnley, or Manchester.

Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Mr Jones said: “The trust is struggling for two main reasons.

“Firstly, Royal Blackburn Hospital has the busiest A&E in the north west and one of the busiest in the UK, and secondly, the cuts that were being placed on the North West Ambulance Service meant they could not provide the level of service they have provided previously.

“There is also a growing number of people calling 999 rather than their GP, or making their own way to A&E.”

He said the police had told him: “In some cases it was more efficient for police to take people to A&E rather than wait for a blue light ambulance or paramedic service.

“They were concerned police were having to take people to A&E, and I raised his concerns with the North West Ambulance Service.

“Quite simply, they cannot cope. I know that they are doing the best they can.

“Lancashire is a lot different to urban areas, and it’s one of the problems they face in hitting targets in areas like this, but they do not have the resources.

“It’s not as if they don’t care or they are not racing to a call, but there simply is not enough resources.”

Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “The patients of East Lancashire have a right to expect to be treated in exactly the same way no matter what their geographical location. I would like to see financial penalties imposed in the areas where there is poor performance.

“Missing one target is one is one target too many, especially where it involves emergency or urgent care.”

Ambulance services across the country have been training residents in rural areas to become community first responders (CFRs) and Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said an ongoing recruitment drive would be crucial to improving performance in East Lancashire.

CFRs are volunteers who often live in rural areas and can give crucial emergency care before paramedics arrive, such as using a defibrillator to revive a cardiac arrest patient.

Mr Stephenson, who has praised the hardwork of paramedics and recently went on a ride along with a crew, said: “I’ve been in discussions with the ambulance service about poor response times and I’m keen to do anything I can to improve this.

“With the best will in the world they’re not going to be able to get to a rural farm as quickly as somewhere in a city, although Vivary Bridge in Colne is an urban area which does give some cause for concern. We know we need to work together to recruit more volunteers to be community first responders.”

Steve Rice, branch secretary for the GMB union at NWAS, said: “It is crucial to try and meet this target, especially for cardiac arrest patients, because they reckon it should be as quick as four minutes ideally.

“The way the service is commissioned has always been a bug bear, because you could just concentrate on Liverpool and Manchester and probably still hit the target, but that wouldn’t be right and we don’t do that because people in Lancashire and Cumbria would suffer.”

NWAS said achieving the response times in rural areas ‘can be challenging due to the nature of the landscape’, but said it still ‘strives for equity’ across the counties.

It said ambulances and rapid response vehicles were based at dedicated stations across East Lancashire, so it does not currently use strategic road-side waiting points.

The stations are in Accrington, Altham, Barnoldswick, Blackburn, Burnley, Clitheroe, Darwen, Nelson, Rossendale and Stacksteads.

Overall in East Lancashire the eight minute target was met in 71 per cent of cases.

In Blackburn with Darwen the performance was 84 per cent, with Whitehall and East Rural the only wards where the target was missed.

An NWAS spokesman added: “There will always be variation across the region depending on weather, time of day, activity levels, distance between vehicle and the incident etc.

“Achieving the required response times in rural areas can be challenging not least because of the nature of the landscape. This is something that we are continually working to improve.

“When we consider resources to improve response times, we obtain data from our capacity manager who maps travel times, geography, historical activity, station locations, existing resources as well as known developments (building of new houses in various areas etc).”

A spokesman for Blackpool Clinical Commissioning Group [CCG], the lead commissioner for NWAS, said: “We are currently working with NWAS on developing a data pack for each of the CCGs who we commission the ambulance service on behalf of.

“The data pack will help explain the reasons for the variations in performance by individual CCGs.

“In the areas where performance is low and are affected by these factors, additional resources are not the answer as this would not be the best use of scarce NHS resources.

“However, NWAS have developed a wide range of community first responder schemes which supplements the services provided by NWAS.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer see: http://www.nwas-responders.info/

Comments (10)

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9:39am Thu 2 Jan 14

shytalk says...

3 yrs This unelected junta have been in power and this is the result. Do not blame labour by saying they caused the world wide recession that has led to cuts in services. This is the result of greedy Tory college boys wanting to put the NHS into private foreign hands like they have done with utility companies and everything else they can get their greedy little trotters on.
3 yrs This unelected junta have been in power and this is the result. Do not blame labour by saying they caused the world wide recession that has led to cuts in services. This is the result of greedy Tory college boys wanting to put the NHS into private foreign hands like they have done with utility companies and everything else they can get their greedy little trotters on. shytalk

12:27pm Thu 2 Jan 14

Mikeee47 says...

8 min response time for most Emergencies is absolute poppy ****. it takes that length of time for the stupid woman trying to Triage over the phone. In which time your loved one has probably died.. you might as well do a motor vehicle diagnostic over the phone. CANT BE DONE!
8 min response time for most Emergencies is absolute poppy ****. it takes that length of time for the stupid woman trying to Triage over the phone. In which time your loved one has probably died.. you might as well do a motor vehicle diagnostic over the phone. CANT BE DONE! Mikeee47

2:14pm Thu 2 Jan 14

cutthebull says...

Nice to see Mr Jones hyndburn mp is clued up with the current situation. I usually support Russ McLean but not on this occasion as financial would hurt the service more, A&E has financial penalties but that's made no difference. This can be solved by many means firstly giving ambulance crews the right to say no if the person does not require urgent medical treatment & they are being used as a bright yellow taxi to hospital then the crew should be able to walk away & be fully supported in this matter. The amount of time wasters who call the ambulance & demand they want to go to hospital is obscene. It's very rare that crews make it to haslingden rd roundabout before their given their next 999 call. NWAS has started to provide crews with drinks up at A&E because they cannot always hand their patient over because of no beds/unsafe to do so leaving a poorly patient on the corridor, and they can easy go up to 9hrs before their first break. Their getting assaulted by the patients their suppose to be helping - I know of 3 incidents in the last year were crew members was left needing hospital treatment.

The public need to be told No when it's an inappropriate call, the issue is then if anything was to happen to that person eg hit by a car while making their way to hospital & an ambulance crew had refused them transport they'd be held accountable. The system is call 'the art of A** covering' every public service has to do it due to ambulance chasers & management who are prepared to hang you out to dry.

If there were financial penalties for the time wasters & the money came straight out of their benefits or even rarer wages then their would be a huge reduction on what calls ambulances/comes into A&E. Don't get me started on the public who demand ambulances home after treatment!
Nice to see Mr Jones hyndburn mp is clued up with the current situation. I usually support Russ McLean but not on this occasion as financial would hurt the service more, A&E has financial penalties but that's made no difference. This can be solved by many means firstly giving ambulance crews the right to say no if the person does not require urgent medical treatment & they are being used as a bright yellow taxi to hospital then the crew should be able to walk away & be fully supported in this matter. The amount of time wasters who call the ambulance & demand they want to go to hospital is obscene. It's very rare that crews make it to haslingden rd roundabout before their given their next 999 call. NWAS has started to provide crews with drinks up at A&E because they cannot always hand their patient over because of no beds/unsafe to do so leaving a poorly patient on the corridor, and they can easy go up to 9hrs before their first break. Their getting assaulted by the patients their suppose to be helping - I know of 3 incidents in the last year were crew members was left needing hospital treatment. The public need to be told No when it's an inappropriate call, the issue is then if anything was to happen to that person eg hit by a car while making their way to hospital & an ambulance crew had refused them transport they'd be held accountable. The system is call 'the art of A** covering' every public service has to do it due to ambulance chasers & management who are prepared to hang you out to dry. If there were financial penalties for the time wasters & the money came straight out of their benefits or even rarer wages then their would be a huge reduction on what calls ambulances/comes into A&E. Don't get me started on the public who demand ambulances home after treatment! cutthebull

5:18pm Thu 2 Jan 14

ratbag says...

I can only imagine the fact people aren't aware of how calls are allocated to crews is the reason te problem is being over looked. Of a night time there are 3 ambulances that cover Brierfield, Nelson, Fence, Barrowford , Blacko, Roughlee, Sabden, Colne, Wycoller, Trawden, Laneshawbridge, Foulridge, Barnoldswick, Earby and any other areas around there. If one of these ambulances gets a call in Nelson they will take that patient to Blackburn Hospital. Once they have dropped that patient off they make themselves clear on a computer screen in the cab. If another emergency come in for the Shadsworth area for example and that Nelson ambulance is 4mins away and the nearest Blackburn ambulance is 6 mins away the Nelson ambulance will attend with no consideration for Nelson and surrounding areas being left without cover. Although NWAS will say that the Blackburn ambulance will me moved towards Nelson for cover this never happens. It's basically a postcode lottery, if you having a cardiac arrest you need to be in Blackburn to have a chance of surviving as you have all the Blackburn ambulances plus those coming to the hospital from other areas
I can only imagine the fact people aren't aware of how calls are allocated to crews is the reason te problem is being over looked. Of a night time there are 3 ambulances that cover Brierfield, Nelson, Fence, Barrowford , Blacko, Roughlee, Sabden, Colne, Wycoller, Trawden, Laneshawbridge, Foulridge, Barnoldswick, Earby and any other areas around there. If one of these ambulances gets a call in Nelson they will take that patient to Blackburn Hospital. Once they have dropped that patient off they make themselves clear on a computer screen in the cab. If another emergency come in for the Shadsworth area for example and that Nelson ambulance is 4mins away and the nearest Blackburn ambulance is 6 mins away the Nelson ambulance will attend with no consideration for Nelson and surrounding areas being left without cover. Although NWAS will say that the Blackburn ambulance will me moved towards Nelson for cover this never happens. It's basically a postcode lottery, if you having a cardiac arrest you need to be in Blackburn to have a chance of surviving as you have all the Blackburn ambulances plus those coming to the hospital from other areas ratbag

5:45pm Thu 2 Jan 14

mavrick says...

They need funding and managing properly. it was not that long ago the number of ambulances were cut and the management promised it could be managed. Well sorry to say the Tory loving managers got it wrong again. we need to get rid of this unelected coalition and concentrate on running the country for the benefit of the people in it.
They need funding and managing properly. it was not that long ago the number of ambulances were cut and the management promised it could be managed. Well sorry to say the Tory loving managers got it wrong again. we need to get rid of this unelected coalition and concentrate on running the country for the benefit of the people in it. mavrick

8:16pm Thu 2 Jan 14

ratbag says...

Having good willed old dears responding for free out in the sticks most certainly isn't the answer and that fact that that seems to be being suggested as the way forward in this article is worrying
Having good willed old dears responding for free out in the sticks most certainly isn't the answer and that fact that that seems to be being suggested as the way forward in this article is worrying ratbag

6:08am Fri 3 Jan 14

Sogden says...

Mikeee47 wrote:
8 min response time for most Emergencies is absolute poppy ****. it takes that length of time for the stupid woman trying to Triage over the phone. In which time your loved one has probably died.. you might as well do a motor vehicle diagnostic over the phone. CANT BE DONE!
They mobilise once an address match is made, the ambulance is already on its way when the "triage" is being carried out
[quote][p][bold]Mikeee47[/bold] wrote: 8 min response time for most Emergencies is absolute poppy ****. it takes that length of time for the stupid woman trying to Triage over the phone. In which time your loved one has probably died.. you might as well do a motor vehicle diagnostic over the phone. CANT BE DONE![/p][/quote]They mobilise once an address match is made, the ambulance is already on its way when the "triage" is being carried out Sogden

6:15am Fri 3 Jan 14

Sogden says...

When is NWAS going to start being proactive as oppose to reactive? Ambulances do spend a large part of their day scooping up OAPS from minor falls, does this require an ambulance and a paramedic? Or could the same job be done with 2 men in a car with enough primary care knowledge to provide a good service? Start charging drunks, and doleys, utilise the fire service for red 1 and 2 calls, the minute they arrive and A&E they should be handed over and cleared regardless. From an outsider looking in, it is an appallingly managed service, staff morale at rock bottom, tired looking and despondent. Massive respect to the techs, emt and medics for doing a sterling Job in these conditions
When is NWAS going to start being proactive as oppose to reactive? Ambulances do spend a large part of their day scooping up OAPS from minor falls, does this require an ambulance and a paramedic? Or could the same job be done with 2 men in a car with enough primary care knowledge to provide a good service? Start charging drunks, and doleys, utilise the fire service for red 1 and 2 calls, the minute they arrive and A&E they should be handed over and cleared regardless. From an outsider looking in, it is an appallingly managed service, staff morale at rock bottom, tired looking and despondent. Massive respect to the techs, emt and medics for doing a sterling Job in these conditions Sogden

12:30pm Fri 3 Jan 14

JNAMOULDING says...

shytalk wrote:
3 yrs This unelected junta have been in power and this is the result. Do not blame labour by saying they caused the world wide recession that has led to cuts in services. This is the result of greedy Tory college boys wanting to put the NHS into private foreign hands like they have done with utility companies and everything else they can get their greedy little trotters on.
very good comment shytalk, it was only a few week's ago our so-called MP Andrew Stephenson published in this very same newspaper that it make's good sense to axe Ambulance stations to save money ?even stating he voted all in favour'' !
and he is now voicing his concerns in this same newspaper about poor responce times' is it any wonder he has been nicknamed the Pendle Poodle on twitter ,
[quote][p][bold]shytalk[/bold] wrote: 3 yrs This unelected junta have been in power and this is the result. Do not blame labour by saying they caused the world wide recession that has led to cuts in services. This is the result of greedy Tory college boys wanting to put the NHS into private foreign hands like they have done with utility companies and everything else they can get their greedy little trotters on.[/p][/quote]very good comment shytalk, it was only a few week's ago our so-called MP Andrew Stephenson published in this very same newspaper that it make's good sense to axe Ambulance stations to save money ?even stating he voted all in favour'' ! and he is now voicing his concerns in this same newspaper about poor responce times' is it any wonder he has been nicknamed the Pendle Poodle on twitter , JNAMOULDING

2:33pm Fri 3 Jan 14

Blue-tonic says...

Ratbag you're spot on I have a friend who is in the service and says the same thing , too many time wasters calling. For most patients symptoms which could be managed at home! Or visiting a pharmacy
Ratbag you're spot on I have a friend who is in the service and says the same thing , too many time wasters calling. For most patients symptoms which could be managed at home! Or visiting a pharmacy Blue-tonic

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