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Ambulance Watch: Fears raised about increase in demand for 999 service

PUBLISHED: 06:30 31 July 2014

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance in Norwich.

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance in Norwich.

Archant Norfolk

Demand for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust is reaching a threshold beyond which it will be difficult to cope, according to a new director.

Matt Broad, appointed in late May as locality director for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, said calls were increasing in number so much that, “we are going to reach a threshold of what we can cope with as a service.”

Speaking at a meeting of the EEAST board yesterday, Mr Broad added: “If it continues to grow that is a very worrying picture… we are going to reach very soon a plateau in where we can go.”

During the meeting the chief executive of the trust, Anthony Marsh, said there had been a “substantial increase in 999 calls this year from last year without any increase in staff. There is light at the end of the tunnel but it is a very long tunnel.”

The trust are currently in the process of recruiting 400 student paramedics in 2014 and 2015, 341 of these have already been recruited.

In June the ambulance trust received an additional 1,680 calls over contract in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. The trust’s control room for the three counties typically receives between 800 and 1,200 calls a day.

Interim trust board chairman Sarah Boulton added: “I don’t think we should be under any illusions that actually there are some side effects as a result of that pressure.”

A report presented by Mr Broad to the board meeting said: “Current activity has put significant pressure on the trust’s ability to meet national targets.

“A sustainable service delivery and performance position is also dependent upon core staffing levels at the correct clinical grades which, although now in the process of being attained, will take significant time.

“The volatility of performance in terms of national and local standards and the ability of the Trust to deliver a consistently good and patient centred service to its patients will continue until such time as the six priority work streams are more fully addressed.

“Good progress has happened to date and it is essential that the whole organisation continues to work towards these goals in order to provide a safe and appropriate service to the region’s population.”

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