Ambulance 999 response blow

GREAT Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) is among the worst performing in England for response times, new NHS figures have shown.

GREAT Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) is among the worst performing in England for response times, new NHS figures have shown.

The service reached 74.3 per cent of life-threatening category A 999 calls within eight minutes between April 2010 and March 2011, against a target of 75 per cent.

The picture is even worse in the Avon sector, which includes North Somerset, where crews got to emergency calls in just 73.3 per cent of cases within the time.

The new statistics represent disappointment for the service, which had improved its performance from 68.4 per cent two years ago to the targeted 75 per cent last year.


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The table published by the NHS shows the GWAS as the ninth worst performing of the 12 ambulance trusts in the country.

The service has been hit by an ongoing threat of industrial action by staff following a dispute over a change in working patterns.

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UNISON steward and paramedic, Chris Hewett, said: “These figures show how urgent it is to resolve the ongoing industrial unrest and UNISON and GWAS need to work hard to resolve it.”

GWAS chief executive Martin Flaherty, the fourth man to head the service following the death of Martina Simmons in 2008, said: “Clearly it is disappointing that we fell just short of the national standard.

“I am confident that GWAS has made further, significant progress towards becoming a consistently first class healthcare organisation.

“While speed of response to 999 calls is certainly important in immediately life-threatening situations, it is by no means the only requirement. The clinical care we provide to our patients is also measured and it is reassuring that we can continue to improve.”

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