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Ambulance service still missing key emergency response targets in Norfolk and Suffolk

Anthony Marsh, the chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Trust. Photo: Steve Adams

Anthony Marsh, the chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Trust. Photo: Steve Adams

Turning around the performance of the region’s ambulance service could take two years, according to health chiefs who admit there are not enough staff to deal with increasing numbers of 999 calls.

As new figures show response times to some life-threatening emergencies in Norfolk are still below government targets, the man tasked with transforming the East of England Ambulance Service Trust said, despite “significant progress”, there was no quick fix.

The latest performance figures announced by the East of England Ambulance Service show the service was still well below target in North Norfolk and South Norfolk during September. Only in Norwich was a government target for the most serious cases hit.

The government target is for 75pc of responses to Red 1 and Red 2 calls - life threatening emergencies - to be made within eight minutes.

But in North Norfolk, ambulances only reached 42.42pc of Red 1 cases and 36.42pc of Red 2 cases within that time, with the Red 2 performance the worst it has been in the past six months.

In West Norfolk the figures were 42pc for Red 1 cases and 46.18pc for Red 2 cases. In West Norfolk it was 67.44pc and 54.42pc; in Norwich it was 81.13pc and 74.32pc and in Great Yarmouth and Waveney it was 70.37pc and 66.02pc.

Although the Great Yarmouth and Waveney figures were below the target, it was one of the best performances in that area over the past six months.

In West Suffolk, 70.37pc of Red 1 cases were reached within eight minutes and 54.49pc of Red 2 emergencies.

The trust’s chief executive Anthony Marsh, who took on the role in January, said it would take two years to turn around the service.

He said: “I recognise that ambulance response times are not good enough and this is that because I inherited an organisation which simply did not have enough paramedics – a shortfall of about 700 paramedics.

“We are tackling these issues and we have made significant progress. Our staff are working as hard as they can to get to patients as quickly as possible, but there are not enough staff to deal with increasing numbers of 999 calls.

“I am very proud of my staff for working under this extraordinary pressure. I ask that we all please support our ambulance staff.”

The organisation has made more than 500 job offers in its student paramedic programme, with 122 already working and a further 125 training.

The EDP has been scrutinising performance through our Ambulance Watch campaign.

• Do you have a health story? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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