Tamworth to lose its Ambulance standby point and Response Vehicle

Thursday, 14th February 2019

TAMWORTH Informed has learned that from March this year, the Rapid Response Vehicle is to be removed from Tamworth and that there will no longer be an Ambulance stand-by point at the Fire Station.

A source told Tamworth Informed last week that from 1 March, Tamworth will lose its dedicated Ambulance coverage.

We were told that the Tamworth Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) which is staffed by a paramedic and is often first on the scene to critical calls will be stopped. The standby point at Tamworth Fire Station will also be closed so ambulances will no longer come to Tamworth on standby.

The nearest crews will now come from wherever they are at the time, but the nearest ‘hubs’ are at Lichfield and Erdington.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has confirmed the rumours to Tamworth Informed, saying that from 1 March, they will stop operating a rapid response vehicle (RRV) in Tamworth and saying that the staff who work on the car will instead work on frontline ambulances.

They said 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.

The Ambulance Stand-by post is currently at Tamworth Community Fire Station on Marlborough Way.

The Ambulance Stand-by post is currently at Tamworth Community Fire Station on Marlborough Way.

A WMAS spokesperson told Tamworth Informed:

West Midlands Ambulance Service was one of three services that piloted the new response standards – the others were Yorkshire and South Western.  Reducing the number of cars provides a much more appropriate service for patients.  For example, a patient doesn’t have to wait for a back-up ambulance after initially being seen by a paramedic in a car.  This means that should they need to be taken to hospital the patient will get there more quickly.  This is particularly true of the most seriously ill and injured patients.

“The Trust has invested heavily in its workforce and is the only one in the UK that has a paramedic on every vehicle.  Having a paramedic attend a patient means more are discharged on scene with fewer needing to be taken to hospital – in the West Midlands, only just over 50% of patients are now transported to A&E.

“Previously, cars had a paramedic on board, ambulances had ambulance technicians, a slightly less qualified member of staff.  Cars were used to get a paramedic to the scene, but now that all ambulances have a paramedic on board, we do not need the cars.  As well as resulting in patients getting to hospital more quickly, using ambulances also provides more flexibility.  The crew can treat and discharge or treat and convey.  A car can only treat and discharge.”

From figures provided to Tamworth Informed which show the number of cases in the Tamworth area for the six month period (1 August – 31 January), the car does not attend almost 90% of cases:

Total number of cases in the area10,481100.0%
Total cases that the RRV attended1,32112.6%
Total cases that the RRV did not attend9,16087.4%
Total cases that the RRV attended on its own5315.1%

 

In relation to the closure of the stand-by post the spokesperson told Tamworth Informed:

“It is now rare for the response post in Tamworth to be used, as vehicles simply don’t get there before they get sent to their next 999 call. The Trust would much rather use the funding for the post and invest it in increasing the number of frontline ambulance staff who save lives than spend it on a response post which is seldom used.”

Figures were also supplied to Tamworth Informed that show the response times for each category of call for the Tamworth area. Unfortunately, response times for B79 have not been supplied at this time.

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

 

From a document obtained by Tamworth Informed, an extract of which can be seen below, WMAS does have the best response times. Sadly, however, Tamworth response times are in most cases slower than the WMAS average when comparing the statistics above and below.

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 MP, the Rt. Hone Christopher Pincher MP was spoken to about the issue, unfortunately, at the time, no response had been received from WMAS to by either Tamworth Informed or Christopher Pincher’s office.

Christopher Pincher MP commented:

I am concerned to hear rumours of the Rapid Response Vehicle being withdrawn from Tamworth. This could mean our closest initial response car would be the Lichfield or Erdington hub. With no new information from the West Midlands Ambulance Service, I will be seeking clarification on the matter and then will report back to residents.”

We have forwarded our findings to Christopher Pincher and will publish his response to our report.

READ MORE: MP to challenge Ambulance Service over plans to remove RRVs