Poor Ambulance Response Rates in Holderness – Are Community First Responders the only answer?

Ambulance emergency response - core serviceAmbulance emergency response - core service

GRAHAM STUART MP in October 2012 highlighted the poor emergency ambulance response rates in Holderness.

He revealed that the average percentage of serious call-outs attended by Yorkshire Ambulance Services (YAS) ambulances within eight minutes (between July 2011-June 2012) was 48.27% for Mid-Holderness, and 57.90% for South-Holderness. The target that YAS aims towards, is to reach emergencies within 8 minutes in 75% of all cases.

In light of these low response rates, which Graham Stuart claimed were “sub-standard” and putting patient care at risk – and in response to one of our reader’s questionsHU12 Online sought to find out the reasons behind these appalling response rates.

We e-mailed YAS for further information and after receiving no reply, we submitted a Freedom of Information request.

We asked YAS about the reasons behind the poor Ambulance response rates in Mid and South Holderness, and the steps being taken to improve the situation. Specifically we asked if YAS could provide copies of documents (minutes, memos, strategy documents, action plans, etc) that

  1. ANALYSE the REASONS behind these poor response rates, and
  2. COMMENT UPON, SUGGEST or RECOMMEND changes to existing practise and procedures that need to take place in order to improve the situation.

The purpose of our request had arisen from the public need to be re-assured that YAS has identified any problem in Holderness ambulance response rates; and that it could demonstrate that it is tackling any problem.

The response from YAS was: “The Trust does not produce any documents that specifically analyse ambulance response times in Holderness or comment upon, suggest or recommend changes to existing practice specifically for this area.”

YAS Holderness Gazette news releaseInstead YAS sent a copy of a press release sent by them to the Holderness Gazette and to BBC Look North:

David Whiting, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said:

“We work very hard to ensure people receive the best possible service from us and are committed to making improvements in the Holderness area. This includes mobilising volunteer Community First Responders as we have done in other rural areas such as Withernsea where it has made a real difference.

“Graham Stuart MP is supportive of our plans to introduce Community First Responders in the area and we both agreed that working in partnership with the local community will be beneficial in helping to address local concerns.

“As an ambulance service we are committed to increasing survival rates of people who suffer a cardiac arrest and believe that by increasing access to defibrillators and the number of people within local communities who know how to deliver CPR, together we can save more lives.”

HU12 Online sent off this request for more information from YAS because of an assumption that there were extenuating factors that might explain why Holderness receives such a sub-standard ambulance response service. We assumed that any response would remark on the rural nature of Holderness, and perhaps the lack of ambulance stations, or some other peculiarities to the area.

HU12 Online is fully supportive of the Community First Responder Programme and full of praise for the volunteers that staff that service – who in many situations can arrive at certain appropriate emergencies before an ambulance. But the key point, is that Community Responders are only despatched after an ambulance is called an ambulance that still needs to reach the emergency before or within 8 minutes!

Is YAS really saying that as far as ambulance response rates in Holderness are concerned low performance is here to stay? And if life-saving services are going to be more reliant on community volunteers, then is the funding being invested into those schemes sufficient? We think the response from YAS raises more questions than gives answers.

For further information about our Freedom of Information request and the YAS response, see the What Do They Know website.

Visit: What Do They Know – Holderness Ambulance Response Rates 

About the Author

Ray Duffill (Editor)
Ray Duffill (Editor)
Ray Duffill (photo by Neil Holmes) is a former community development manager but now describes himself as a beat-blogger or citizen-journalist. Ray lives in Hedon and also edits the Hedon Blog and is the Hedon correspondent for the Holderness Gazette.

4 Comments on "Poor Ambulance Response Rates in Holderness – Are Community First Responders the only answer?"

  1. Good work, Ray. I think the YAS response is extremely unsatisfactory, for the reasons you state, and also of course that First Responders are extremely helpful in appropriate emergencies. There are situations where swift action is important and require the full resources available to an ambulance crew. The First Responder programme is an excellent supplement to NHS services, not a replacement.

    • Carol – I am taking this to the East Riding LINk to chase up as well. Between us we should be able to discover why the response rates are so poor in Holderness – and what actions YAS intend taking to improve matters.

      I will also bring this to the attention of Graham Stuart MP.

  2. I recently heard that an elderly person living in Paull who suffered the obvious symptoms of a stroke waited 30 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, not good

    • Graham – Hopefully that story is not a typical situation!? The new Community First Responder Scheme to operate from Paull will obviously improve things in that village – but both patients and Frirst Responders need to have confidence that an ambulance will arrive in good time.

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