Lincolnshire people deserve, but are not receiving, the best response times from their ambulance service.
Over the last four years, we have continually heard how EMAS are not reaching their regional targets, and their performance for Lincolnshire, with its unique rural issues, is even worse.
EMAS have not met their response time targets for the last 21 months in Lincolnshire, and this isn’t good enough. Staff work very hard, but something needs to be done to improve the service.
Voluntary organisations in Lincolnshire, such as LIVES and other emergency services, make a valuable contribution to response times but it is not acceptable for them to prop up the ambulance service.
Without these organisations, the performance of EMAS would be even worse – not only do taxpayers end up paying twice, but every area in the East Midlands should receive the same level of service.
The public response to the initial changes put forward raised serious concerns, and the Health Scrutiny Committee expressed our own worries, including that they did not show how performance would be improved.
In fact, we were not convinced they would improve.
EMAS have now approved new proposals that are significantly different and, despite the goalposts changing and new options being introduced at the eleventh hour, EMAS plans still fail to explain how they will start meeting response time targets for our county.
The Health Scrutiny Committee for Lincolnshire has now written to the Secretary of State to review the EMAS consultation. We believe the consultation is flawed: key parties were not invited to comment; new options not consulted on; and both public and stakeholder events were poorly attended.
The Committee has no confidence that the EMAS pledge of ‘Being the Best’ will happen in Lincolnshire without considerable extra financing, and our ultimate goal is to return a dedicated ambulance service to the county.