Health minister Norman Lamb says he can no longer accept assurances from ambulance chiefs at face value after it emerged the trust had not met any of its emergency response targets in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire since April.

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The North Norfolk MP was speaking as the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) admitted to the EDP that extra ambulances introduced in Norfolk and Suffolk last Monday were still not running full time.

In every month of this financial year the trust failed to reach its eight-minute and 19-minute targets for responding to category A patients – those in a life-threatening condition.

Over 10 months from April 2012 to January 2013, the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) failed to meet its target of responding to 95pc of calls within 19 minutes and 75pc of calls within eight minutes in the three counties.

Its worst performance over the 10 months was in Norfolk where just 64pc of eight-minute target calls were responded to within the time frame.

Mr Lamb admitted that he could no longer accept assurances at face value from ambulance chiefs.

“So many assurances I have been given have not been met,” he said.

Mr Lamb said the problem was two-fold – ambulance turnaround times at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital being too long and the high rate of sickness leave among staff.

He said: “The sickness absence is the highest of any ambulance trust in the country. It is related to levels of morale and shows the pressure they are under.”

In Suffolk, 67pc of A8 calls were reached within eight minutes while the figure for Cambridgeshire was 68pc, well below the average for the trust and target of 75pc.

The 19-minute response times also made grim reading for the region, with the trust not meeting its targets in any of the 10 months in the three counties as well as in Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

It comes a week after the trust introduced 15 extra ambulances to its fleet following a review.

As reported in the EDP last Monday, none of the 15 ambulances was working full time due to a lack of staff willing to work overtime.

The trust said yesterday that they had made progress since last week with ambulances in Cromer, Diss, Potter Heigham and Beccles running 24-hour days but not for the whole week.

In Cromer, Potter Heigham and Beccles the ambulances are operating full time three days a week and in Diss one day.

The extra ambulances in Dereham, Downham Market and Mildenhall are still not running full time on any day of the week.

Suffolk MP and health minister Dan Poulter, who has pushed for improvements within the service, called the figures “hugely disappointing” but “unsurprising”.

The report, by the trust’s director of strategy and business development, Adrian Matthews, will go before the service’s board tomorrow.

It also said that patient handover delays at hospital continued to be a problem with the average waiting time remaining at 20 minutes for the last two months.

A spokeswoman for the service said: “While recent patient surveys show the clinical care they receive is good, the ambulance service recognises the need to improve its performance against time targets and is implementing a number of measures to do so, including 200 new frontline recruits, 15 extra ambulances, which will be crewed by existing staff on overtime as much as possible until we get our new staff on board, better working with hospitals to tackle handover delays, more effective rotas and special cars to treat patients at home when they may not need to go to hospital.

“In addition our new chief executive Andrew Morgan is looking at other solutions and working towards a priority of meeting time targets.”

As well as 15 extra ambulances, the EEAST is also recruiting 75 new paramedics and 124 care assistants.

12 comments

  • Norman we're equally fed up of you trying to take the moral high ground while cutting the ambulance service.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • The bloody cheek of mr lamb!! Take a look closer to home you pathetic lot.

    Report this comment

    H.stevenson

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • Is this the same Mr Lamb that once threatened to resign his then current position over the Tory handling of the NHS? Surely, the same Mr Lamb would have voted against the draconian cuts the ToryNu Tory coalition have introduced. Come on Mr Lamb , you and your government are the problem . The management of the ambulance service may need a shake up ,but cutting funding can only lead to a poor performance. Whichever hat your hiding under Mr Lamb , that must be obvious. Stop headline grabbing and get better funding.

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • The Board, Directors and Management of EEAST are not fit for purpose and should be replaced with immediate effect. Turn-round time at NNUH needs to be addressed. This is the responsibility of NNUH not EEAST and management heads should roll here as well. It is not acceptable that these issue's continue and it is time our MP's actually took some action rather than hold wastefull meetings and reviews. This is not rocket science it is common good management practice issues being ignored and peoples lives are being put at risk.Could culpable manslaughter charges be brought against both EEAST and NNUH in the future ??? as there have been recent cases brought against Private Company Directors Managers who have not operated within their designated responsibilities.

    Report this comment

    Roy Gooch

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • We had to call for an urgent ambulance 3 times. It was so upsetting that if it happens again we will use our car to go to the QE at Lynn. phoning ahead so they can expect us. Thats what it has come to. The service is just not good enough. .

    Report this comment

    Johnny Norfolk

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • I like to back my comments up with facts from the coalface....In 1948, when the NHS was created, the UK population was 49 million and almost exclusively indigenous. The exploitation described above could not have been foreseen. But now the UK population is 63 million, with freedom of mobility within the EU and with the world beyond. Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham and other British airports are large global hubs. We have one of the most advanced health services in the world with the latest technology and therapies freely available. William Beveridge and Aneurin Bevan would be outraged by the abuse of their flagship social reform and on such a scale. The time has come to protect our NHS. British taxpayers should not be funding an International Health Service. Professor J. Meirion Thomas is a consultant surgeon with the NHS.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • The Service is USELESS !! and will never get any better.. it is laughable !!! if it wasn't so serious.. professional my foot !!! monkey's could do better, what say you "Rolf" lol..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • What's Lamb thinking - I just don't get it, Jeremy (Hunt) assured me if we cut the service it would be leaner and thus more efficient, but the exact opposite has come to pass, so it must be the staff at fault. Forget blaming anyone at EEAST. This is 100% the result of cuts agreed by the puppet Lamb and his tory masters in government. You can't run the service people need with less money, and obviously the management looks after itself, so the cuts are hitting the front line.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • I have just looked at the chart. Some people should be sacked for allowing that to happen. If that performace was in the private sector heads would have rolled.

    Report this comment

    Johnny Norfolk

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • I wasn't going to do this again, but, really, how do you spell "response" in the headline ?

    Report this comment

    crunchy dick

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • The population we have now is too much for the NHS to cope. We either k*ll off everyone over the age of 70, or stop letting poor EU migrants and others from the 3rd world, on coming to Blighty for free medical treatment.

    Report this comment

    nrg

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

  • The core shifts cannot be covered, never mind overtime. Three double crewed ambulances at Longwater day shift yesterday. Only three on night shift. Single crewed at Attleborough. Single crewed at Diss. Two vehicles immediately taken out of thier shift at the the start to do long distance inter hospital tranfers. The list goes on. @ Ray Gooch, you are spot on mate. According to (mis)management, demand drops after 2 am. Dream on !

    Report this comment

    Rolf

    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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