North East Ambulance Service has so far responded to more than 13,500 more life-threatening emergency calls this year.
Between April 2014 and January 2015, the service responded to 13,576 more Category A red emergencies than in the same period last year. This is an increase in 9.7 per cent.
Looking at December alone, the service responded to 1,940 incidents than December 2013 – an increase of 12.9 per cent.
This increased demand for the most urgent incidents has led to our performance against the national target falling below the expectation of reaching 75 per cent of red incidents within 8 minutes. NEAS has responded to 75 per cent of these patients within 8 minutes and 17 seconds.
The Department of Health categorises ambulance patients based on the seriousness of their condition. Red 1 is assigned to those patients who are in cardiac arrest and, from 1 October 2014, it was changed to also include patients who were potentially identified as likely to go into cardiac arrest as well as those who were already in cardiac arrest. This change has been a contributory factor to the increase in red incidents.
An increase in hospital delays has also affected our performance. During Quarter 3, there were 8,024 delays experienced at hospital, over the 15 minute target for arrival to handover, compared to 5,673 in the previous quarter. Of these delays, there were 538 delays experienced over 1 hour and 46 over two hours.
NEAS remains committed to improving the experience of our patients by caring for and treating more patients at home, therefore avoiding unnecessary conveyances to hospital. NEAS has treated over 7,000 more patients during the first 10 months of this financial year, compared to 2013/14, without the need to transport them to an A&E department. This reduces pressures on the emergency care system and allows greater access for those patients with the most urgent needs.”
Paul Liversidge, Chief Operating Officer for NEAS, said: “This year, particularly the recent winter months, has been the busiest yet for us in terms of pressure.
“Inevitably this has an effect on our performance and we are doing all we can to ensure we get to those who need us most as quickly as possible.”