Rural areas hit by a drop in ambulance response times

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First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

SENIOR figures from Oxfordshire’s ambulance trust have warned a recruitment crisis and rise in demand is affecting response times in rural areas.

Representatives from South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) said there had been a significant rise in the past year in “red calls” and that it was using some private ambulances to help meet demand.

Red calls are time-sensitive because a patient could be in a life-threatening condition, such as having a heart attack.

Ambulance services are given the target of getting first-responders to 75 per cent of those incidents within eight minutes.

In Oxfordshire 18,917 red calls were received in 2012/2013 and 20,588 in 2013/2014 – a rise of just under nine per cent.

Of those they reached about 14,536 calls and 15,346 respectively – an average of about 75 per cent.

But figures reveal that response times have fallen in West Oxfordshire, Cherwell District, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire.

County SCAS operations director Steve West told committee members at a recent county council meeting: “As resources get more stretched our ability to cover the large geography gets more stretched.”

The service has said more red calls being referred from the NHS 111 medical advice service and problems recruiting paramedics are the main causes.

Mr West added: “We also have savings of £4m to deliver but we have a number of initiatives on the way to address the challenges we face.”

Performance in some areas of Oxfordshire had improved, he added, and the installation of defibrillators in many rural towns and villages had also helped.

Defibrillation of a patient by a trained individual before an ambulance arrives is counted as meeting the eight-minute target.

Prime Minister David Cameron, also MP for Witney, has previously raised concerns about the situation in his constituency.

In West Oxfordshire response times have now fallen for two years in a row.

When asked for a response Mr Cameron repeated what he said in February: “It is not acceptable that any area, rural or otherwise, suffers a disadvantage and poor service must be rectified as a matter of urgency.”

He said he would be writing to the trust.

Mr West said that in rural areas response times were falling because it was difficult to justify the costs of stationing ambulances in places with fewer calls during peak times.

The service is now trialling scheme in which private contractors are working from Witney, to see if it will boost performance.

West Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for health Mark Booty said: “If you have a health problem and you are in the country you have the same right to heathcare as anyone in the city.

“But I can understand the ambulance service’s problems.”

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Comments (14)

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6:40am Wed 9 Jul 14

HomerSimpsonDoh says...

The Tory Toffs demand all these cuts, then moan when services are affected. Typical Tory boy Dave. Let's hope an ambulance is too late to help him or his family one day then he can actually see the damage him and his cronies are doing.
The Tory Toffs demand all these cuts, then moan when services are affected. Typical Tory boy Dave. Let's hope an ambulance is too late to help him or his family one day then he can actually see the damage him and his cronies are doing. HomerSimpsonDoh
  • Score: -1

6:51am Wed 9 Jul 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

This is all part of the Tory 'masterplan' to be able to say the NHS is failing and should be privatised. Cutback services to the bare minimum while handing money left right and centre to their business friends, HS2 for example, and they can stand up in Parliament and say how terrible the NHS has become obviously blaming the last Government which they still do daily even after four plus years of being in power.
This is all part of the Tory 'masterplan' to be able to say the NHS is failing and should be privatised. Cutback services to the bare minimum while handing money left right and centre to their business friends, HS2 for example, and they can stand up in Parliament and say how terrible the NHS has become obviously blaming the last Government which they still do daily even after four plus years of being in power. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 3

7:11am Wed 9 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself...

"Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather"

If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.
If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself... "Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather" If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 0

7:41am Wed 9 Jul 14

HomerSimpsonDoh says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself...

"Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather"

If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.
Have you just got in from a drunken night out??? Roads have nothing to do with it. So everyone from the countryside move into town, typical Tory boy.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself... "Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather" If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.[/p][/quote]Have you just got in from a drunken night out??? Roads have nothing to do with it. So everyone from the countryside move into town, typical Tory boy. HomerSimpsonDoh
  • Score: -4

8:36am Wed 9 Jul 14

the wizard says...

On Easter Monday my wife was diagnosed as having acute pneumonia while in respite care. The diagnosis was made by a doctor from the Witney 111 service. He contacted the JR organized her admission to Acute Assessment Unit and ordered an ambulance. That was at 17:45hrs. At 21:30 hrs we were still waiting and my wife's condition was deteriorating. i spoke to ambulance control and at 21:30hrs, and they could not guarantee my wife the next available vehicle. I then told them that I would transfer my wife in our own car. The controller there was adamant that we should not do that, but at the same time they were not prepared to take responsibility of the consequences should my wife's condition worsen. By the time my wife was admitted to a ward it was daylight. At lunchtime we were informed by the Registrar on the ward my wife's condition was still perilous, and any contact by them after visiting time would be to discuss end of life arrangements.

Despite my wife being admitted over the phone as critical, 999 calls made by anyone get the first response. So people now who find themselves as a carer, like myself, now know the only way to get the patient admitted in a sensible time is either call 999, or take the patient yourself, and then queue in A+E. The administration of the ambulance service is so overloaded it cannot be relied upon like it once was.

I'm told the fleet of trucks, as they are refereed to, has been reduced as have the number of staff. A year ago ambulances were often seen outside A+E but not so much now. You may well think they are strategically placed on standby to reduce waiting times, but this I'm told is not so much the case now, as the numbers have been cut back.
Their press office can bleat spin all they like in an effort to paper over cracks, but the fact remains the service has been cut back on financial grounds. One can but hope that the people who make these decisions suddenly fall ill and suffer the consequences of their actions .

The information I have been given was given with very little prompting by various staff members who are obviously , under pressure, still doing a professional job in the manner that is expected, and above all, not all apparently happy as they could be, as the standards are slipping in what was always a first class service through no fault of their own.

As usual, the suits, are to blame, but then again, they don't use the service, but now I can see privatization slipping in, and the Tory boys will no doubt cherry pick the top prizes for the top money they can earn from it. Cameron should be shame faced for allowing this to happen but the unions seem to be toothless and lacking in spine to take on these back door tactics, and the public just stand idly by and let it happen. I fear for future generations living here in this once proud land. Oh my! how much further must we tumble before melting into the abyss.
On Easter Monday my wife was diagnosed as having acute pneumonia while in respite care. The diagnosis was made by a doctor from the Witney 111 service. He contacted the JR organized her admission to Acute Assessment Unit and ordered an ambulance. That was at 17:45hrs. At 21:30 hrs we were still waiting and my wife's condition was deteriorating. i spoke to ambulance control and at 21:30hrs, and they could not guarantee my wife the next available vehicle. I then told them that I would transfer my wife in our own car. The controller there was adamant that we should not do that, but at the same time they were not prepared to take responsibility of the consequences should my wife's condition worsen. By the time my wife was admitted to a ward it was daylight. At lunchtime we were informed by the Registrar on the ward my wife's condition was still perilous, and any contact by them after visiting time would be to discuss end of life arrangements. Despite my wife being admitted over the phone as critical, 999 calls made by anyone get the first response. So people now who find themselves as a carer, like myself, now know the only way to get the patient admitted in a sensible time is either call 999, or take the patient yourself, and then queue in A+E. The administration of the ambulance service is so overloaded it cannot be relied upon like it once was. I'm told the fleet of trucks, as they are refereed to, has been reduced as have the number of staff. A year ago ambulances were often seen outside A+E but not so much now. You may well think they are strategically placed on standby to reduce waiting times, but this I'm told is not so much the case now, as the numbers have been cut back. Their press office can bleat spin all they like in an effort to paper over cracks, but the fact remains the service has been cut back on financial grounds. One can but hope that the people who make these decisions suddenly fall ill and suffer the consequences of their actions . The information I have been given was given with very little prompting by various staff members who are obviously , under pressure, still doing a professional job in the manner that is expected, and above all, not all apparently happy as they could be, as the standards are slipping in what was always a first class service through no fault of their own. As usual, the suits, are to blame, but then again, they don't use the service, but now I can see privatization slipping in, and the Tory boys will no doubt cherry pick the top prizes for the top money they can earn from it. Cameron should be shame faced for allowing this to happen but the unions seem to be toothless and lacking in spine to take on these back door tactics, and the public just stand idly by and let it happen. I fear for future generations living here in this once proud land. Oh my! how much further must we tumble before melting into the abyss. the wizard
  • Score: 3

8:59am Wed 9 Jul 14

Sandy Wimpole-Smythe says...

Andrew:Oxford wrote:
If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself...

"Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather"

If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.
The roads and the weather have nothing to do with the fact that there simply aren't enough ambulances or staff to man the ambulances left now we have such an inept government.
[quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself... "Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather" If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.[/p][/quote]The roads and the weather have nothing to do with the fact that there simply aren't enough ambulances or staff to man the ambulances left now we have such an inept government. Sandy Wimpole-Smythe
  • Score: 0

9:30am Wed 9 Jul 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

HomerSimpsonDoh wrote:
Andrew:Oxford wrote:
If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself...

"Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather"

If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.
Have you just got in from a drunken night out??? Roads have nothing to do with it. So everyone from the countryside move into town, typical Tory boy.
Oh I never touch the stuff. I prefer to keep a clear head when the tongues of the people around me are released from the normal social shackles by alcohol. It helps that I have an excellent memory when it comes to indiscretions.

Roads are a major part of it though.

I can absolutely guarantee that a vehicle travelling on a standard road at 60mph is more likely to travel 8 miles in 8 minutes than a vehicle travelling at 30-40mph on a narrow single-track twisty country road with blind bends, oncoming traffic and limited opportunity to pass.
[quote][p][bold]HomerSimpsonDoh[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Andrew:Oxford[/bold] wrote: If you want improved ambulance response times in rural areas, then it's time to look at the roads and ask yourself... "Could an ambulance (or fire engine) driver successfully and safely negotiate the length of this road at 60mph in the dead of night in poor weather" If not, it's time to improve the roads - or move somewhere safer to live.[/p][/quote]Have you just got in from a drunken night out??? Roads have nothing to do with it. So everyone from the countryside move into town, typical Tory boy.[/p][/quote]Oh I never touch the stuff. I prefer to keep a clear head when the tongues of the people around me are released from the normal social shackles by alcohol. It helps that I have an excellent memory when it comes to indiscretions. Roads are a major part of it though. I can absolutely guarantee that a vehicle travelling on a standard road at 60mph is more likely to travel 8 miles in 8 minutes than a vehicle travelling at 30-40mph on a narrow single-track twisty country road with blind bends, oncoming traffic and limited opportunity to pass. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 5

10:17am Wed 9 Jul 14

Quentin Walker says...

Whilst David Cameron is kow-towing to his master, Nick Clegg and borrowing £12bn to give away in Overseas Aid, we cannot expect funds to be available for our own sick and injured.
Whilst David Cameron is kow-towing to his master, Nick Clegg and borrowing £12bn to give away in Overseas Aid, we cannot expect funds to be available for our own sick and injured. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 0

12:32pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Quentin Walker wrote:
Whilst David Cameron is kow-towing to his master, Nick Clegg and borrowing £12bn to give away in Overseas Aid, we cannot expect funds to be available for our own sick and injured.
Nick Clegg... master? Your medication is wearing off Quentin.

Next you'll be telling me T Blair was a socialist, something you used to read on message boards.
[quote][p][bold]Quentin Walker[/bold] wrote: Whilst David Cameron is kow-towing to his master, Nick Clegg and borrowing £12bn to give away in Overseas Aid, we cannot expect funds to be available for our own sick and injured.[/p][/quote]Nick Clegg... master? Your medication is wearing off Quentin. Next you'll be telling me T Blair was a socialist, something you used to read on message boards. King Joke
  • Score: -4

12:38pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Andrew, this County has excellently engineered roads on which in theory speeds of 80-90 mph are possible. Trouble is they are choked with traffic most of the time. You may be surprised to learn that ambulances are fitted with lights and sirens which instruct the traffic to get out of the way.

The A-roads are good enough, like the Benson Road, the Banbury turnpike and even the A420, but even some of the B-roads are pretty fast, like the road from Eynsham to Standlake. I'm a cautious driver but have to lift off to stay down at 60 mph on these .

No amount of road investment will help if there is no ambulance available.
Andrew, this County has excellently engineered roads on which in theory speeds of 80-90 mph are possible. Trouble is they are choked with traffic most of the time. You may be surprised to learn that ambulances are fitted with lights and sirens which instruct the traffic to get out of the way. The A-roads are good enough, like the Benson Road, the Banbury turnpike and even the A420, but even some of the B-roads are pretty fast, like the road from Eynsham to Standlake. I'm a cautious driver but have to lift off to stay down at 60 mph on these [where permitted]. No amount of road investment will help if there is no ambulance available. King Joke
  • Score: -1

4:21pm Wed 9 Jul 14

Quentin Walker says...

King Joke wrote:
Quentin Walker wrote:
Whilst David Cameron is kow-towing to his master, Nick Clegg and borrowing £12bn to give away in Overseas Aid, we cannot expect funds to be available for our own sick and injured.
Nick Clegg... master? Your medication is wearing off Quentin.

Next you'll be telling me T Blair was a socialist, something you used to read on message boards.
Did Cameron want to supply free school meals? No.

Did Clegg want to supply free school meals? Yes.

Clegg, master.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Quentin Walker[/bold] wrote: Whilst David Cameron is kow-towing to his master, Nick Clegg and borrowing £12bn to give away in Overseas Aid, we cannot expect funds to be available for our own sick and injured.[/p][/quote]Nick Clegg... master? Your medication is wearing off Quentin. Next you'll be telling me T Blair was a socialist, something you used to read on message boards.[/p][/quote]Did Cameron want to supply free school meals? No. Did Clegg want to supply free school meals? Yes. Clegg, master. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 2

4:47pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Tuition fees?
Tuition fees? King Joke
  • Score: -2

8:03pm Wed 9 Jul 14

Quentin Walker says...

King Joke wrote:
Tuition fees?
Not in the scope of this debate. Nice try.
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: Tuition fees?[/p][/quote]Not in the scope of this debate. Nice try. Quentin Walker
  • Score: 1

8:14pm Wed 9 Jul 14

King Joke says...

Clegg rolled over completely on tuition fees, a touchstone issue for his party, for the sake of the coalition - hardly demonstrating his mastery over Cameron.
Clegg rolled over completely on tuition fees, a touchstone issue for his party, for the sake of the coalition - hardly demonstrating his mastery over Cameron. King Joke
  • Score: 1

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