Gloucestershire's bad ambulance response times to be flagged with secretary of state for health

Serious concerns over ambulance response times in Gloucestershire have prompted civic chiefs to write to the secretary of state for health and call for a briefing from ambulance chiefs. South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust failed to meet their improvement expectations for the previous financial year.

Patients suffering a stroke or other serious health issues have to wait on average 30 minutes for an ambulance to turn up to these category two incidents. Such incidents should be responded to in 18 minutes.

In March, category two response times averaged 44.7 minutes, according to a report presented to the health overview and scrutiny committee. SWAST currently has the longest response times of all ambulance trusts nationally, primarily driven by the dispersed population and rural nature of much of the South West region.

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Category one response times which are those for life-threatening injuries and illnesses, specifically cardiac arrest should be within seven minutes. But in Gloucestershire ambulances have been taking around ten minutes consistently over the last two years.

Average response time varies by district – driven by rurality, with lower average response times in our urban centres Cheltenham and Gloucester. And councillors are fed up with the constant underperformance and delays.

Chairman Andrew Gravells (C, Abbey) proposed writing to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins over the issue. And to call on South Western Ambulance Service’s Chief Executive to attend a meeting in July and brief councillors on what is being done to remedy the situation.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson (LD, Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) agreed with this suggestion and said he almost sounds like a broken record as he consistently raises concerns over response times in the Cotswolds. A spokesperson for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said their workers stive every day to deliver the best care they can and are working with other partners to improve the service.

"We welcome the chance to meet with members of the Committee to share our ambulance response times and discuss opportunities, alongside other system partners in Gloucestershire. Our ambulance clinicians strive every day to deliver their best care for patients, and we are working with our partners in the NHS and social care, to do all we can to improve the service that patients receive."