When any of us are taken critically ill we want an ambulance (and paramedic) alongside us as quickly as possible. What a modern ambulance and team can achieve is extraordinary and the response time expected in the most serious cases is very swift. However for those waiting it’s arrival time can rarely pass slower.
In recent years, from a very poor base, our local ambulance service, SECAmb have invested in new teams and vehicles and worked hard to improve their performance. Pre Covid this came through in response times, especially for the most dangerous cases: our local ambulances going from one of the worst in the country to massively improved performance, routinely reaching patients in dire need in very tight timescales.
However I visited them last Friday because I am acutely conscious that the difficult winter period is nearly upon us and I am concerned about the ongoing knock-on impact of Covid and how they are meeting the challenge.
Following the impact of Covid we are still, months on, seeing an increase in Category 1 and 2 calls. These are the most serious calls, requiring the fastest and most comprehensive response. These now make up 70% of all calls, up from 50%.
This is having an impact on the time it takes to reach those with less serious (but still in many cases deeply worrying) concerns. SECAmb are absolutely focussed on getting the triage right and minimising the time gap. They are also ensuring that patients waiting for an ambulance will receive regular contact from the Service to check in prior to the ambulance reaching them. We would all agree that those who need the most urgent assistance must get it first. However the service is very focussed on maximising resources and providing support to all and I intend to monitor this over the coming months. To support their efforts the Government has provided additional support to SECAmb from the £55m funding being provided to ambulance trusts across England.
Last week I also attended the “naming” ceremony for the new Bohunt school building. The school has done a fantastic job at its temporary site, a site (and refurbishment) we had to fight hard to get. However with GCSEs approaching for the most senior students we are all keen to see the move completed and it’s exciting to see the progress being made.
I also particularly enjoyed last week meeting Millais students who spoke very clearly about how they felt we can improve mental health provision for young people - some very good suggestions which I am taking up.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Quin at the South East Coast Ambulance Service.