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Audlem ambulance issues taken to the top of the NHS

29th March 2007 @ 10:10am – by Audlem Webteam
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Regular readers will have been following the North West Ambulance Service saga after several appalling response times to 999 calls in the Audlem area. Local MP Stephen O'Brien writes to say: "As you are aware I am urgently seeking a public meeting with the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust to take place in Audlem, which I am trying to arrange to take place in the next 2 weeks (I had offered dates last week which the Trust declined). As soon as a date has been agreed I will contact you again."

In the meantime, Stephen O'Brien has received a letter from the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Andy Burnham MP. Following Audlem Online's stories, the Audlem ambulance issue had been referred to the very top of the Health Service. The minister's letter says:

Dear Stephen

Thank you for your letter of 22 February to Patricia Hewitt about ambulance response times for the village of Audlem, and Nantwich district.

I note you have written to the Chief Executive of the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust on this issue. The Department itself does not hold response time information at sub-Trust level so the Trust should be able to give you a more detailed response to your concerns. Nationally, performance against the national standards has improved in recent years, with more seriously ill patients than ever before receiving a response within eight minutes – over 1.2 million people in 2005/06 compared to 710,000 in 2001/02.

The ambulance review, Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance Services, sets out a series of recommendations that will transform ambulance services over the next five years so that they can:

  • offer more medical advice to callers who need urgent advice and support;
  • provide and co-ordinate an increasing range of other services for patients who need urgent care, including treatment at home;
  • work as part of the primary care team to help provide services and support to patients with long-term conditions; and
  • continue to provide rapid, high quality 999 services to emergency patients.

As you know, one of the recommendations was that there would be fewer, larger Trusts so that Ambulance Trusts have the strategic capacity and capability to deliver the vision outlined in the review, and so that resources could be used more efficiently to release capacity for further investment and improvement in patient care. Reconfiguration has affected back-room functions, it has not affected the location oe number of frontline staff.

Since May 2006, Ambulance Trusts have been working to integrate their management and operational structures and to develop improved organisations that have the necessary strategic capacity and capability.

I do appreciate that the benefits of larger Ambulance Trusts – improved patient care as a result of raising the standards of service provided by all Trusts to the level of the best – may become apparent in some Trusts before it does in others. This will depend to some extent on the position the Trust was in ahead of the reconfiguration. I remain confident, however, that the resulting greater investment in training and development of staff, sharing of best practice, and economies of scale, will deliver the desired outcomes across all Trusts in due course.

I hope this reply is helpful

Best wishes

Andy Burnham


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