Pendle casualties wait above average response times for an ambulance, special report reveals

People in Pendle face longer waits for an ambulance compared to the national average.
People in Pendle face longer waits for an ambulance compared to the national average.
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Response times for ambulances are above the national average in Pendle, an investigation has revealed.

The average rural response time for an ambulance is 11 minutes, 13 seconds but in the BB18 postcode of Pendle, which covers Barnoldswick and Earby, the response time stands at 13 minutes, one second.

An ambulance should respond to an emergency within six to eight minutes, depending on where you live, but in the BB8 area of Pendle the response time is 10 minutes, 16 seconds and in BB9 casualties face a wait of nine minutes, 33 seconds.

The statistics are revealed in a special investigation carried out by the BBC using the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts have said that delays could make the difference between life and death.

Ambulance bosses have accepted some responses took longer than they should but said staff were working hard in 'challenging circumstances' due to the levels of demand and the remote nature of some locations.

Research has shown that if patients are given all the treatment immediately, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation - an electric shock to restart the heart, about two-thirds can survive.

But every minute delay reduces survival by 10%.

But rural areas are seen as particularly 'challenging'" because of the distances involved, narrow roads and - when the weather was bad - the difficulty getting around.

The statistics, which home in on postcode districts, do not include rapid response vehicles or community first responders as these no longer 'stop the clock' for emergency calls.

The ambulance that responds to an emergency will always be the nearest available one so this could be from anywhere.

The report obtained the average response times for the most life-threatening callouts, including cardiac arrests, stab wounds, major blood loss, seizures, patients not breathing or struggling to breathe and women in the end stages of labour, in more than 2,700 local communities across Britain.

These times cover the point at which a trained person reaches the patient - so it could be an ambulance or volunteers trained by the service to respond to these highest-priority cases.

A spokesperson for North West Ambulance Service said today that improvements had been made to the service by putting in place additional resources in some areas meaning that more ambulances were available to attend emergencies.

The spokesman said: "Our patients also hugely benefit from the support of community first responders (CFRs), particularly in the most rural parts of our region.

"These are volunteers who give up their time to respond to emergencies in their local area and are able to arrive as quickly as possible.

"However, since the new ambulance targets came into force in 2017, the arrival of a CFR no longer stops the clock.

"This means that while the response time may show an arrival above seven minutes, it is possible that there is help with the patient before then."

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of first responders in the North West Ambulance Service and there are currently 800 across the trust, with 200 of them in Lancashire. The trust works with them to offer training opportunities and encourage recruitment.

The ambulance spokesman added that heavy investment had been made in lifesaving community public access defibrillators which had also been boosted by donations from the North West Ambulance charity.

The spokesman added: "These can be accessed and used by anyone and give patients in cardiac arrest the best possible chance of survival.

"We currently have over 600 operational in Lancashire, 36 of which are in the Burnley and Pendle area.”