TRAFFORD patients with life-threatening illnesses are being made to wait up to 15 minutes for an ambulance, a report has revealed.

The Department of Health and Social Care states that ambulances should respond to category one life-threatening cases within seven minutes, at least 75 per cent of the time.

The report, published by the North West Ambulance Service, was discussed by members of the council’s health and scrutiny committee on Tuesday.

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Chairman Cllr Rob Chilton said he was concerned about the contents of the NHS performance and activity report – in partcular ambulance response times.

Cllr Chilton, who represents St Mary’s ward, said: “Personally I’m less than content with the figures. NWAS seems to be moving in the right direction in some aspects, but I have some deep concerns about its performance.

“The statistics that have been published are not what I want to see at all.

“I think a change is required and we need to get more of an input from NWAS into these meetings.”

However, figures in the NWAS document revealed that the trust did respond within 15 minutes 90 per cent of the time.

A NWAS spokesman said the figures highlighted in the report are from August 2017 to May 2018.

“This includes a very busy winter period which was challenging not only for NWAS, but for the NHS as a whole,” the spokesman added. 

“We saw a substantial rise in activity which unfortunately does impact on our performance.

“The rise in seriously ill patients during this time means more people need to go hospital and this further adds to our challenges when ambulance crews have to wait to hand over the care of the patient.”

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Last  year the NHS made changes to response targets and ambulances are now expected to reach seriously ill patients in an average time of seven minutes.

The ‘clock’ will only stop when the most appropriate response arrives on scene, rather than the first.

The NWAS said working to the new response programme (ARP) was ‘challenging’ but it was focused on getting the appropriate response for each patient.

The service also missed its patient ‘hospital handover’ targets, which are set at 15 minutes. 

However, this was due to the rise in seriously ill patients during winter coupled with ambulance crews having to wait to hand over the care of the patient.

A NWAS spokesman added: “The target is 15 minutes, but unfortunately, it often takes longer, particularly during the winter, and these delays do have an impact on our ability to respond to patients waiting in the community.

“We have reviewed our vehicle mix and replaced rapid response vehicles with emergency ambulances and employed more emergency medical dispatchers to answer 999 calls.

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“In addition, we have enhanced clinical support in our emergency operations centres with a full staffing in our clinical hub, reviewed our processes for dispatching ambulances to patients who call NHS 111, explored opportunities for training our staff and worked with BT to benchmark our 999 call answering performance.

“These initiatives are working well and the report shows that in recent months, performance in the borough has been improving as have the hospital handover times.”