People in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire have to wait more than 13 minutes for an ambulance
- Credit: Archant
People living in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire have to wait more than 13 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, new figures have revealed.
According to an investigation by the BBC, critically injured people in rural areas should be reached in 11 minutes for serious conditions such as heart attacks or breathing issues.
In Fenland the average response time can vary from 10 minutes 25 seconds to 13 minutes 57 seconds. In East Cambridgeshire the time varies from 10 minutes 50 seconds to 13 minutes 17 seconds.
The figures come after a Freedom of Information request revealed that six of the 10 postcodes with the longest waiting times were in rural and coastal areas of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.
An ambulance is meant to arrive within an average of six to eight minutes, depending on where you live.
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The national average for urban areas was seven minutes.
According to the BBC figures, the single longest wait was recorded in Wells at a 21 minutes and was followed by RH14, in Chichester, Suffolk at 20 minutes.
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The data came from the average response times for the most life-threatening callouts in more than 2,700 local communities across Britain, which had at least 50 call outs over the January to October 2018 time period - more than one a week.
These represent about one in 20 emergency cases the ambulance services deals with, and includes cardiac arrests, stab wounds, seizures, major blood loss and cases where patients are not breathing, or struggling to breathe.
In other parts of the region, waits were much shorter - in postcodes around Norwich, the wait fluctuated around five to seven minutes, and sat at five minutes and 54 seconds in NR5, which covers Costessey.
In PE30, which covers King’s Lynn and north Lynn, the wait was six minutes and 38 seconds, while in Great Yarmouth the wait was roughly six to seven minutes.
In Huntingdon the average response time is around 11 minutes 16 seconds.
Dorothy Hosein, chief executive, said: “When we receive a 999 call, the call is allocated to the dispatch team who immediately dispatch the nearest available ambulance.
“While they travel to the patient, if another ambulance is nearer and becomes available, that will be dispatched. Our dispatch teams are constantly moving resources around to keep cover as effective as possible.
“Taking patients to hospital and returning to base can take a crew out of an area for some time. In rural areas such as Wells-next-the-Sea, which is approximately 30 miles distant from two of Norfolk’s hospitals, it is challenging to maintain the same level of response we provide in more densely populated areas, especially when responding to high numbers of our most seriously ill patients.”
She said the trust has “every sympathy” with people having to wait in difficult circumstances, and said it works hard to get to the sickest patients as quickly as possible.
“Our Emergency Clinical Advice and Triage Centre constantly monitors and reviews patients to ensure their safety and welfare,” she said.
She said the trust also:
• Works closely with partners within the NHS to ensure patients are treated quickly, but said delays with other agencies causes further delays to ambulances.
• Provides hospital ambulance liaison officers in A&E departments to assist hospital teams and ambulance crews to handover the sickest patients as a priority.
• Actively recruits more staff against a nationwide shortage of paramedics.
• Has developed a handover escalation process.
• Is putting in place additional capacity to maintain vehicles and minimise breakdowns, keeping more ambulances on the road.
• Is planning to recruit more CFRs (volunteers trained to attend emergency calls) to improve response rates in rural areas.