Ambulance 999 ‘neglect’ fears

NEARLY one in three patients in North Somerset facing a life-threatening emergency is not receiving treatment from ambulance crews within the Government-approved target time.

North Somerset councillors have voiced ‘great concern’ at how, between April and July, around 1,000 patients were not attended to quickly enough when their lives were in danger.

New guidelines outlined by the Department of Health require 75 per cent of the most seriously ill patients to be seen within eight minutes.

Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) achieved the target across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and Avon, but in North Somerset the figure dropped to below 70 per cent. It has prompted Councillor Mike Bell to question whether North Somerset is being neglected in favour of more urbanised areas.

John Oliver, external communications manager for GWAS, said: “We have to look to position our response services where the greater demand is. We are getting better at placing our resources around our patch where these response services are needed.”

Last year there were more than 22,000 life-threatening call-outs in Bristol that GWAS had to deal with, compared with 9,500 in North Somerset.

Mr Oliver said response times were not a good way to measure the service’s success and risked judging the GWAS without properly taking into account how good the paramedics’ treatment was.

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He said: “Speed of response is clearly important when getting to patients who have suffered life-threatening medical emergencies, but it is only one factor in the care we provide.”