West Craven fears over ambulance response times

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A Barnoldswick councillor has slammed the ambulance service as “not fit for purpose” following more detailed 
quarterly statistics on response times.

Coun. Ken Hartley says a letter should be sent to Simon Stevens, NHS England’s Chief Executive, demanding improvements on “abysmal” response times in the BB18 postcode area.

Coun. Hartley told members of Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee: “He (Mr Stevens) is putting lives at risk in West Craven and it is just not good enough.”

Statistics from March to May published by the North West Ambulance Service Trust were presented to councillors with a response from the trust’s Chairman Mary Whyham to a letter from Andrew Stephenson MP.

Between March and April less than half of the calls made were attended within the eight minute target time.

Regionally, the ambulance service has a target of reaching 75% of the most serious calls within eight minutes and comparative figures for Pendle were significantly better.

The ambulance service has a regional target of reaching 95% of calls within 19 minutes.

In her response to Mr Stephenson, Ms Whyham said East Lancashire was a challenge due to its rurality.

She said the quarter had proved “particularly challenging throughout the North West due to an unexpected rise in activity” and in June, Lancashire had seen a 15% increase in emergency calls and across the North West it was 8%.

Ms Whyham also set out ways for how the ambulance service would work in the future including community paramedics and advanced community first responders as well as reducing the number of people who unnecessarily attend accident and emergency.

But Coun. Hartley dismissed the response as lacking an immediate action plan and added: “Four weeks ago late on a Saturday evening, a young lady smacked her head on the cobble stones and was found by a policeman who radioed for an ambulance as she clearly had head trauma.

“Twenty-five minutes later a first responder arrived who examined her and agreed she was slipping in and out of consciousness. He radioed through for an emergency ambulance and was told that one wasn’t available.”

Coun. Hartley told councillors that an emergency ambulance arrived “well over two hours” after the woman was found and that the emergency responder could not take the woman to hospital on his own and was not allowed to go in a police van with her when offered by the policeman.

Coun. Lyle Davy told the meeting that “postcodes shouldn’t matter” and one paramedic he had spoken admitted that ambulances from the area were “often called into Manchester” and that people living near hospitals with accident and emergency departments got a better service.