Friday 1st November 2013 – 4.30pm
Dr Marsh has been in the ambulance service for 27 years and says he has never known a period when the Service has been under so much pressure. Mr Passant has been campaigning for more funding to be available from Commissioners for extra ambulances in Shropshire since the beginning of 2013 when his grandson Thomas had to wait over 40 minutes when he developed a life threatening condition.
The number of 999 calls in Shropshire is rising every year and even though the ambulance service is providing more paramedic cover in the county than ever before, it is still not enough. Quite simply, Shropshire needs more emergency paramedic ambulances and West Midlands Ambulance Service needs more money in order to provide them.
The situation is nothing new. West Midlands Ambulance Service previously claimed to have been one of the worst-funded ambulance services in the country. The Trust has one of the lowest funding averages compared to other ambulance services. This claim was further substantiated in an independent report commissioned by Primary Care Trusts and published in September 2009 entitled: “Efficiency Review of The West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust”, referred to as “The Lightfoot Report”.
In February 2012, West Midlands Ambulance Service wrote to the then Shropshire County PCT outlining the need for more funding. The report stated: “Within Shropshire PCT there are clearly factors such as its geography that make responding to incidents and achieving performance targets difficult. As the Lightfoot report highlighted, performance of around 65% …” (against a target of 75%) “… could only be expected in Shropshire due to its nature, currently performance is around 74% Year to Date, and therefore is comfortably above this expectation.”
In order to achieve the targets the report called for:
• Two additional 24/7 ambulances at a cost of £1.2m.
• Shropshire County PCT to reduce delays at hospitals by “improving hospital turnarounds and thus improving ambulance availability within the PCT to respond to calls and be better placed to respond quickly to outer areas.” or provide an additional £900,000 for the equivalent of one-and-a-half additional ambulance crews to offset the effects of the delays. This funding has not been forthcoming.
Since then handover delays at hospitals have continued. The hospitals are also stretched and under pressure, but the knock-on effect of ambulances waiting at A&E to handover patients means they can’t go to the next emergency.
Mr Passant said: “Frontline staff and everyone in the ambulance service are working as hard as they can to provide the very best possible care to patients but are being undermined by a lack of adequate funding. I have met with Anthony Marsh and seen copies of the correspondence he has sent to the CCG setting out the risks. I am confident Anthony is doing all he can to raise the concern of inadequate funding and to secure the additional ambulances. I share Anthony Marsh’s determination to secure more funding for ambulances in Shropshire. West Midlands Ambulance Service can only provide them if it gets the money from commissioners.”
WMAS Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said; “I welcome the continued support of Paul Passant and other residents of Shropshire in order to secure the required funding for additional emergency ambulance crews in Shropshire.”