Ambulance service is under-performing

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has under-performed this year by failing to meet national annual performance targets.

To be on target, EMAS would need to deal with 75% of Category A 999 calls in 8 minutes and 95% of Category B calls in 19 minutes.

In the past year the service, which serves Lincoln, has recorded figures of 72.4% for Category A (life threatening) 999 calls and 88.3% for Category B (serious, not life threatening) calls.

It has also seen 11,000 more patients within eight minutes in 2010-2011.

David Farrelly, Deputy Chief Executive of EMAS said: “We have provided a tremendous amount of care to patients this year, often in very difficult circumstances, but there is no getting away from the fact that these are deeply disappointing results for us and for our patients.”

“We were hitting the target until the severe snow and ice hit us in the last week of November.

“The prolonged cold spell brought a dramatic increase in patients with breathing problems and flu-like symptoms through December and into January.

“Unfortunately we were not able to regain our focus through February and March to make up for lost ground.

“We are determined to get it right for patients though, and we have invited input from colleagues in other ambulance trusts to advise on how we can regain our former status of only three years ago when EMAS was one of the country’s top performing ambulance trusts.”

The past year has seen demand on the ambulance service dealing with 999 Category A calls grow 10%, with 205,248 calls in 2010/11 and 186,643 in 2009/10.

The EMAS also state that in their report that they fell below the criteria due to trying to prioritise people with Category A problems like strokes.

However, despite the let down in figures. the EMAS improved their patient safety, treating patients with dignity and safeguarding vulnerable people.

The Trust also added 91 more ambulances, with more to come, and better staff rotas.

“Trust surveys of patients who have used our 999 services over the past year show that 95% of people were satisfied or very satisfied with the service we provided to them and 95% of patients felt that we exceeded their expectations,” added Farrelly.

“However, we also know from talking to patients that a speedy ambulance response time is highly prized, and so we will be making every effort over the coming 12 months to achieve the national performance targets once more.”

Source: EMAS | Photo: Andrew Dubber