11:19 Wednesday 22 January 2014

Trust hits back over response time fears

Written byMARK MCKAY

A FORMER ambulance service boss has hit out at emergency response times to Burton after a man who suffered a shocking head injury waited 42 minutes for emergency treatment.

Roger Thayne (right), the former chief executive of Staffordshire Ambulance Service, also raised concerns about triage being carried out over the phone.

He spoke out after the Mail reported earlier this month that the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) dispatched an ambulance to treat a man who fell over in Burton High Street –from 26 miles away in Cannock.

At the time, WMAS said the man’s injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

Mr Thayne said: “I was concerned but not surprised by the delay that a patient with a serious traumatic head injury was left to wait on the street in Burton for 42 minutes.

“I was also not impressed that they had triaged the call by telephone.”

Before he left his role in 2006, Mr Thayne claimed that the 85 per cent of emergency call-outs in Burton responded to in fewer than eight minutes would not be matched following restructures.

He also said since WMAS formed in 2006, demand for cover in Birmingham and the Black Country had taken service away from parts of Staffordshire.

He said: “Since the merger with WMAS, the emergency ambulance resources have been regularly used in the Black Country, Birmingham and other parts of the West Midlands without replacement.

“Such action has resulted in poorer emergency response performance.”

But WMAS defended its position and said it was ‘quite wrong’ to suggest ambulance services left Staffordshire short of cover.

The spokesman said: “All ambulance services must triage every 999 call that is received. This was also the case when Mr Thayne was chief executive of Staffordshire Ambulance Service.

“Because of the inherent difficulties of doing so, all trusts are ‘risk averse’ and will tend to over-prioritise cases as life-threatening, even though they may transpire not to be so on arrival.”

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