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Across all UK ambulance trusts 66.5% arrived at ‘Category A Red 1’ calls within 8 minutes. This is below the target of 75% and means that one third of patients with an immediately life-threatening condition (including patients who are not breathing, have no pulse or obstructed airways) waited longer than 8 minutes for an ambulance to arrive. In the West Midlands it was slightly above the target at 76%, but this fell to 64% in the East Midlands.
For ‘Category 2 A Red 2’ calls (including patients with strokes and epileptic seizures) ambulances arrived at the scene within 8 minutes for 58% of patients; meaning 42% of patients had to wait more than 8 minutes.
NHS England statistics show that performance against targets has fallen and the Care Quality Commission has identified concerns in many ambulance Trusts, which raises concerns about patient safety. At Anthony Collins Solicitors we have represented patients who have suffered harm because of a negligent delay deploying an ambulance to a Red 1 or Red 2 call.
However, it is fair to weigh the statistical performance against a number of factors, including (1) the increasing numbers of emergency 999 calls and (2) whether meeting an 8 minute target necessarily means better patient care and outcomes (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2464827/).
There were 861,853 emergency 999 calls to the ambulance service across the UK in March 2016 (a single month), which equates to an average of 27,800 calls every day. This is an enormous and increasing number, showing the huge demand placed on these services. This will inevitably put pressure on ambulance trusts at a time when there are funding restrictions and efficiency measures across the NHS.
I had my own experience of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) last year when I made a 999 call because a close relative was unconscious. The 999 call handler and paramedics were wonderful. I don’t know whether they arrived within 8 minutes – I wasn’t counting! – but their care and compassion was second to none and because of WMAS my husband made a full recovery.
Sadly, I have found that this is not always the case. For example, I represented the family of a patient who died of a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm who was not seen quickly enough to save his life. His wife made two 999 calls but each time they failed to recognise that his condition was critical, so referred him to NHS Direct who told her she must bring him into the local out-of-hours clinic. After a culmination of negligent delays he sadly died the next day. We successfully brought a clinical negligence claim, proved that he would have survived and secured compensation for his widow.
If you or someone you know wants to know more about the services we provide and how we have successfully brought cases where patients have suffered as a result of negligence, then please contact us. We are happy to talk to you without any initial charge.
For more information please contact Ann Houghton one of our specialist clinical negligence and personal injury solicitors.
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