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Ambulance chief says patient needs outweigh targets

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: February 07, 2014

South central ambulance

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THE HEAD of the ambulance service which covers Burton has said that he will not go chasing after targets if it means patients suffer as a result.

Anthony Marsh, chief executive for West Midlands Ambulance Service, was responding to concerns about the service’s performance against key response time targets.

The service should respond to 75 per cent of category 1 - such as patients suffering a cardiac arrest - or 75 per cent of category 2 calls - which covers conditions such as strokes - within eight minutes.

Across the region so far this year 80 per cent of red 1 calls have been answered within the set time and 74.1 per cent of red 2 calls.

Mr Marsh said missing the target by one per cent could mean they were outside the eight-minute time by just 20 seconds and the important thing was ensuring an appropriate response time for all those who dialled 999 and not just focusing on a target.

He said: “What’s really important for me is we don’t have patients waiting too long for ambulances. 20 seconds on a red 2 call no-one will feel the difference, but say for example someone has fallen, broken their leg and is waiting over an hour or longer for an ambulance they will feel that, that to me is completely unacceptable.

“We are not going to achieve the target and miss the point, we need to provide the best service for our patients.”

It has recently been revealed the service faces being fined £3million if performance is not improved.

Mr Marsh said it would be a travesty if the money was taken away from front-line services and it would be harder to get an increase in funding next year.

This would make it more difficult to train additional paramedics or replace older vehicles.

He added: “For me what is important is whether we are providing patients with a good level of service, however we are judged on response standards, that is the method used by commissioners to assess us.”

East Midlands Ambulance Service, which covers South Derbyshire, revealed that for the first weeks of 2014 it was almost hitting the eight minute target thanks to new measures put in place.

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