December 8 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Campaigners have pledged to lobby ambulance bosses to improve response times in north Norfolk after figures revealed they were falling woefully below the regional average in getting to stroke patients.
In north Norfolk only 8pc of stroke sufferers reach a specialist within an hour - compared to 50pc of patients across the east of England.
The shocking figure was revealed by Mark Taylor, chief officer of the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) - the GP led group that buys and plans health services - when he spoke at a council meeting yesterday.
He told North Norfolk District Council members the East of England Ambulance Trust had been “struggling” for more than a year with performance targets.
He said the trust was also failing to meet the national standard of reaching 75pc of incidents where patients are in a life threatening condition within eight minutes, as in north Norfolk this percentage stood in the mid 40s.
Mr Taylor added: “As the CCG we have remained increasingly concerned about the level of service we receive. Norfolk has the worst ambulance service in the east of England and within Norfolk, north Norfolk receives the worst service and we think that’s absolutely unacceptable and we won’t continue to tolerate it.”
Mr Taylor said the “golden standard” to get stroke patients to specialist care within an hour was “pivotal” to their survival, and the 8pc of patients receiving that service in north Norfolk “simply has to change”.
Doug Hoy, chairman of North Norfolk Different Strokes - a support group for stroke survivors - backed his call and said more needed to be done to improve services.
The 60-year-old from High Kelling said he waited more than an hour for an ambulance after he suffered a stroke at work in Cromer earlier this year.
Mr Hoy said: “It was only a small one but it was (still) a stroke. And it’s not just me, I know other people that have waited over and hour. I believe targets have got to be improved, especially in north Norfolk.”
But the trust admitted it was “unlikely” it will be able to hit the 50pc standard in the district - despite investing £20m in frontline ambulance resources and increasing ambulance hours - because of the area’s geography.
A trust spokesman said: “Although additional resources will improve our initial response to patients, this will remain a challenging standard as it is measured on the time the patient reaches the treatment centre.
“So although we may reach patients faster, we will still need to take them to the nearest stroke centre, which may be a long distance for the ambulance to travel.
“The distance patients have to be taken to reach a unit means it is unlikely we will be able to reach the 50pc standard quoted in the north Norfolk area.
“This is not due to the ambulance resourcing, but as a result of the geography of the area.”