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Latest ambulance problem passed to MP

13th April 2008 @ 8:08am – by Audlem Webteam
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Details of the latest ambulance problem in Audlem have been passed to local MP Stephen O'Brien, who is the Shadow Minister of Health, an opposition role that includes the ambulance service. He has actively followed up previous failures by the North West Ambulance Service to provide an adequate service, including last year's public meeting with NWAS senior managers and debating the Audlem ambulance issue on Granada TV only last month.

It's hoped that continued pressure will persuade the North West Ambulance Service to improve its real service standards, and to stop publicising misleading performance figures. By coincidence, BBC TV's Newsnight programme this week highlighted how 'targets' are distorting service standards in the NHS, quoting the naming of corridors and empty rooms as 'Clinical Assessment Units' where patients are wheeled and left if they are approaching the '4 hour waiting target' in A&E. This practice has been used at Leighton Hospital, we are told by reliable sources.

For those that missed the latest ambulance report that has been passed to Stephen O'Brien, we repeat it below:

Yet again, an ambulance has taken far too long to reach an emergency in Audlem. This is the fifth serious failure that has been reported on Audlem Online. On Friday afternoon (4th April), after an accident involving a serious head injury to an 88-year old resident in the village, a 999 call was made and, as some of the people involved in making the call knew how important it was to be specific, they told the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) it was a Category A call, and to get an ambulance there as soon as possible.

Because of the well-publicised incidents, a note was taken of the time to see how quickly it would take an ambulance to arrive. The target for such a case is 8 minutes, one that is near impossible to meet without an ambulance in the vicinity. A Community First Responder arrived after 25 minutes and the ambulance 45 minutes after the 999 call. Yet again, however, the NWAS's version of the times is very different. Roughly in line with all the other cases we have reported, their figure is only 73% of the local version of the time.

A North West Ambulance Service spokesperson said: "An emergency call was received by NWAS at 16.22 on Friday 4 April 2008 to an address in Audlem. The nearest resource, a Community First Responder, was deployed and arrived on scene after 22 minutes, and provided support to the patient until an ambulance arrived 11 minutes later (i.e. 33 minutes from the 999 call). The patient was then taken to Leighton Hospital.

"NWAS appreciates the difficulties faced when attending to calls in rural areas, and we are looking at ways to improve these. This includes the development of a Community First Responder scheme in Audlem. NWAS appreciates that waiting for an ambulance can cause concern and apologises for any distress caused. NWAS is committed to achieving high levels of patient care"

We hesitate to suggest that any organisation is 'massaging' its statistics to make its performance look better than it is. Given, however, that examples of such practices are being exposed in the media all the time, the Audlem response times by the NWAS seem to be an increasingly clear example of incorrect reporting of their performance. The NWAS is a public emergency service dealing with potentially 'life or death' issues. It seems reasonable to expect a higher level of service – and to be able to trust their statistics.

Unfortunately, the NWAS failed in another sense last night. At an Audlem Parish Council meeting three months ago, NWAS executives promised to supply local quarterly ambulance performance statistics to the Council. They were reminded of this promise several weeks ago yet failed to get them to the Parish Council. That failure hardly engenders confidence in a public service that everyone depends upon. (A written apology has been received from the NWAS following the original publication of this story.)


This article is from our news archive. As a result pictures or videos originally associated with it may have been removed and some of the content may no longer be accurate or relevant.

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