The emergency service crisis has seen the response of Yorkshire’s ambulance crews to the most serious incidents fall well below national targets.
National guidelines state paramedics should be attending 75 per cent of the most serious ‘red’ emergency call-outs within eight minutes but region-wide the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) managed just 60 per cent in December.
The trust claims its dramatic dip in performance came during “an unprecedented” spike in demand, with the amount of red call-outs surging by 18 per cent.
Figures released by YAS to Leeds City Council ahead of a special meeting of its Scrutiny Board for Health and Wellbeing and Adult Social Care also showed its on-time response to red calls in Leeds north fell to 55 per cent.
It comes following a festive period in which A&E departments across England failed to see patients within the target time of four hours and several hospitals, including Scarborough Hospital, declared major incidents.
Paul Mudd, locality director of operations for West Yorkshire at YAS, said demand for emergency ambulances is rising nationally.
“December saw unprecedented levels of demand in Yorkshire and the Humber with total demand for emergency ambulances up by almost four per cent on the corresponding period in 2013,” he said.
“Red calls to the most seriously ill and injured patients were up by over 18 per cent – this equated to an extra 4,500 red incidents requiring an emergency response and, coupled with a busy festive season, this adversely affected our response times.”
YAS, which is currently in dispute with union Unite over public safety claims linked to its employment emergency care assistants to work with paramedics, had been responding to 72.15 per cent of red call-outs in November within eight minutes before figures slumped to just 60.61 per cent last month. The trust claims its response times are showing an improvement for January.
Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stockbridge, asked Prime Minister David Cameron what the Government planned to do to avert the “nationwide crisis” in the NHS yesterday – citing that one of her constituents waited for over an hour for an ambulance after suffering a stroke.
Mr Cameron said: “What we are doing in terms of the ambulance service is making sure there are the 17,000 extra paramedics. We have put £50million more into the ambulance service.”
He also “condemned” a Unison, Unite and GMB-led ambulance staff strike set for January 29.