Ambulance service ‘middle of the pack’ for new response standards

SECAmb vehicle
SECAmb vehicle

Sussex’s ambulance service is now in the ‘middle of the pack’ for response times nationally after new standards were introduced last year.

Back in September South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb), which has been in special measures since May 2016, missed its target on almost half of the most serious 999 calls.

It was described at the time as the ‘worst performance ever recorded in the UK’ by one Sussex MP.

New national performance standards were introduced several months later with the Ambulance Response Programme (ARP) going live in Sussex in late November.

Since then SECAmb is ‘effectively in the middle of the pack’, according to an update provided by the trust’s chief executive Daren Mochrie to its board members on Thursday (January 11).

In a written update he said:” SECAmb are now providing performance data for comparison against all other ambulance trusts in England.

This has demonstrated that the preparation and planning for the move to ARP has concluded effectively, with SECAmb now showing that it is effectively in the ‘middle of the pack’ from an ambulance performance perspective against the new ARP standard.”

According to the NHS, changes to the performance standards, which were introduced in 1974, will free up ambulance crews to respond to emergencies as vehicles are often dispatched to respond to patients in less than eight minutes when most patients do not need such a quick response.

Four new categories were introduced to replace the previous Red 1, Red 2, and Green system.

According to a more detailed report also discussed by the trust’s board, SECAmb ‘still has a long way to go to conquer all of the ARP targets’.

‘Poor performance’ against the calls deemed to be non-emergency in Category 3 and Category 4 was a ‘measure of the availability of resources’.

The third phase of the ARP project would focus on the ‘re-alignment of resource types into the operating model with a significant reduction in solo response resources’.