MP to challenge Ambulance Service over plans to remove RRVs

Friday, 15th February 2019

THE Member of Parliament for Tamworth, the Rt. Hon. Christopher Pincher MP is to challenge West Midlands Ambulance Service as to how they expect to increase response times when they plan to remove Tamworth’s Rapid Response Vehicle.

Yesterday we broke the news that Tamworth is to lose is RRV which is staffed by a fully trained WMAS paramedic and that the standby point at Tamworth fires station is to be removed from 1 March 2019.

Now Christopher Pincer MP has said that whilst it is positive that the Ambulance service is developing flexibility in their approach to its service, Tamworth’s response times are already behind that of the WMAS averages.

Christopher Pincher MP told Tamworth Informed:

“Having received the details from the West Midlands Ambulance Service, it is positive to see that there will be greater flexibility and speed in getting patients from the response site to hospital.

“However, my concern lies in the speed in getting initial emergency help to patients. In sudden, serious conditions like a heart attack or stroke, every second counts and to have the Rapid Response Vehicle there with a trained paramedic on hand to begin treatment whilst they wait for an ambulance could be the difference between life or death. With Tamworth response times already behind the West Midlands average, I will be asking how the Service expects to increase initial response times when they are removing our Tamworth RRV service.”

West Midlands Ambulance Service told Tamworth Informed that over the last two years, the Trust has moved away from using RRVs due to the implementation of the Ambulance Response Programme which was introduced nationally by NHS England in October 2017 and that while the number of response vehicles has reduced, the number of ambulances within WMAS has increased substantially.

Tamworth Informed were supplied with figures by WMAS that show the average time to get the most serious Category 1 call, in the B77 and B78 postcode were 7:13 and 7:06 respectively – the target is 7:00 minutes. As a whole, however, WMAS average this time at 6:53 which means that for the most serious of calls in Tamworth, crews arrive slower than the target and the WMAS average.

*Correction – In an earlier article, we quoted WMAS average times of 4:18 for category 1 and 7:52 for category 2.  These timings relate to the time the call is first received to the time the first unit arrives on the scene. (Source: Ambulance Response Programme Review – NHS England Gateway Publication Reference: 08296).

For category 2 calls, the next serious classification, the response times for postcodes B77 and B78 are 16:30 and 13:00 respectively. Whilst this is quicker than the target time of 18:00 minutes, it is slower than the WMAS average of 12:47.

Target timeCat 1Cat2Cat 3Cat 4
Mean

7 mins

90%

15 mins

Mean

18 mins

90%

40 mins

90%

120 mins

90%

180 mins

B777:1313:4216:3029:0781:3197:39
B787:0611:4913:0022:3988:0785:28

 

These timings are for what is known as clock start to clock stop. The ‘clock start’ is the point after the initial triage is completed on the phone (up to 30 seconds for Category 1 and up to 240 seconds for categories 2) as well as any delays resulting from queueing calls awaiting a resource to become available. ‘Clock stop’ is when an ambulance crew arrives.

Ambulance Response Programme Review (NHS England Gateway Publication Reference: 08296)

Source: Ambulance Response Programme Review (NHS England Gateway Publication Reference: 08296)

This is a breakdown of how the calls are categorised:

  • Category 1: Life-Threatening – A time-critical life-threatening event requiring immediate intervention or resuscitation.
  • Category 2: Emergency – Potentially serious conditions that may require rapid assessment and urgent on-scene intervention and/or urgent transport.
  • Category 3: Urgent – An urgent problem (not immediately life-threatening) that needs treatment to relieve suffering and transport or assessment and management at the scene with referral where needed within a clinically appropriate timeframe.
  • Category 4: Less-Urgent – Problems that are less urgent but require assessment and possibly transport within a clinically appropriate timeframe.

 

Tamworth Informed has also learned that in the financial year 2016-17, the Cheif Executive of WMAS was paid between £230,000 and £235,000. This includes his salary, a performance related bonus, benefits in kind and pension-related benefits. In the financial year, this increased to between £255,000 and £300,000. With his salary increasing from between £160,000-£165,000 to  £185,000 and £190,000.

A lot of our readers have blamed the government and budget cuts for the changes and so this encouraged us to do some digging into budgets.

We could not find details of the budget allocated to WMAS for years going back, but this poses a question – if budgets are being cut, why are senior staff receiving such an increase in pay and benefits?

If budgets aren’t being cut, then the government aren’t to blame for this change – this is down to how the funds are managed.

With the news of the changes, we thought it important to remind our readers to think before calling 999 or attending A&E.  Below is a handy poster to help.