GMB London, the union for ambulance staff, has analysed new data that shows ambulance services across the South East, East and London are consistently failing to achieve vital targets set for response times.
For the year to August 2016 Red 1 emergency calls in East of England, those involving life threatening respiratory or heart issues, were responded to within 8 minutes only 66.9% of the time. In London the figure was 68.7%, South Central Ambulance area, 71.8% and in the South East Coast area, 67.8%.
The target for Red 1 and Red 2 calls is to reach patients within 8 minutes at least 75% of the time.
For Red 2 calls, all other life threatening emergencies, only 57.6% of calls were responded to within the vital 8 minute window in the East of England Ambulance area. In London the figure was 63.3%, South Central Ambulance area, 72.2% and in the South East Coast area, 59.9%.
Warren Kenny, GMB London regional secretary, said…
“The situation is at a critical level when less than 72% of life or death emergency calls are responded to within 8 minutes. The government has created conditions which mean the public now have to wait longer for the ambulance service to respond.
High vacancy rates and staff shortages mean existing staff have to shoulder more responsibility and crews responding to 999 calls are not adequately staffed. The current leaving rate in England of 6.1% for qualified ambulance staff is outstripping the joining rate of 4.3% with the situation getting worse.
With vacancy levels at over 1,000 in the ambulance service, the Government must act fast if they want to seriously try and hit the response time targets. Jeremy Hunt is acting irresponsibly, proper investment and full recognition of skills is needed to solve the problems around the recruitment and retention of ambulance staff.”