Good marks for ambulance crews

AMBULANCE crews in East Anglia provide a good quality service, according to a report published by the Healthcare Commission. The annual health check replaces the old star ratings, and scores each NHS Trust on many aspects of its performance based on a r

AMBULANCE crews in East Anglia provide a "good" quality service, according to a report published by the Healthcare Commission.

The annual health check replaces the old star ratings, and scores each NHS Trust on many aspects of its performance based on a range of information gathered throughout the year.

This includes the care and treatment patients receive, performance against Government targets and use of resources.

The East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust - now superseded by the East of England Ambulance Service - scored "good" on quality of services and "fair" on use of resources.


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Dr Chris Carney, chief executive of the new East of England Ambulance Service, said: "We are very pleased with this result, which is testament to the skills and dedication of the staff and management of the old East Anglian service covering Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

"The task now is to ensure that these successes are continued and built upon under the auspices of the new East of England service, which includes Bedfordshire, Essex and Hertfordshire.

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"Some big challenges lie ahead as we integrate the work and practices of three services into one, with changes to how we record response times from April 2008 also a significant factor."

This sees a tightening in the rules governing when ambulance services should start their response time clock running.

From April 2008 it must start as soon as the 999 call is connected to ambulance control, before the caller's location and problem are known.

"This will result in us further speeding up our response to life threatening emergencies to comply with the requirement to reach 75 per cent of such calls within eight minutes," added Dr Carney.

"But it will be a major challenge to achieve as new processes and technologies are adopted and more ambulance vehicles are needed to reach calls faster.

"We have submitted performance plans to the Department of Health, and we must find ways of working smarter in the next 18 months if these ambitious new targets are to be reached at a time of financial constraint in the East of England.

"From now we will be monitoring both our current performance and our distance to the new target, as well as looking at developments for our staff in providing even wider ranges of care.

"There will be new career developments for paramedics, new ways of responding to calls and the wider use of emergency care practitioners."

The former services in Essex and Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, which joined with East Anglia to form the new service, both scored "good" on quality of service, and "good" and "fair" respectively on use of resources.

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