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999-crews fail to hit targets

PUBLISHED: 11:15 25 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:52 25 August 2010

PARAMEDICS are persistently missing targets for reaching critically and seriously ill patients.

PARAMEDICS are persistently missing targets for reaching critically and seriously ill patients.

London Ambulance Service (LAS) is supposed to respond to at least 75 per cent of category A calls - where the person is in a life-threatening condition - within eight minutes.

But in Bromley crews have managed to hit this figure only once in the last six months, in January this year.

That figure could increase following the closure of the A&E unit at nearby Queen Mary's Hospital, in Sidcup, meaning more emergencies could be diverted to Princess Royal Hospital, in Farnborough.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health, which sets the targets, said: "Long waiting times for an ambulance are unacceptable and we have made it clear that ambulance response time targets need to be met.

"Trusts are making massive improvements across all aspects of their services to deliver at the required performance levels.

"Where category A and B response-time targets are not being met, strategic health authorities and primary care trusts are working with trusts to improve performance."

In Bromley, London Ambulance Service is also falling short of targets for responding to category B calls, where the patient is in a serious condition.

In the last six months it has not once managed to meet the criteria of attending 95 per cent of these incidents within 19 minutes.

The figures, from December last year to May this year, are the latest available. LAS said the targets were presenting it with a "significant challenge".

In December 2008, the trust hit a six-month low, responding to just 81 per cent of category B calls within 19 minutes.

The closest it came to hitting the target was in January this year when it responded to 93 per cent of serious calls in the set time.

Calls are logged as categories of A, immediately life threatening; B, serious but non-life-threatening; and C, neither life threatening nor serious.

A spokesperson for LAS said: "The target of meeting 95 per cent of category B calls within 19 minutes represents a significant challenge across London, which we are working hard to achieve.

"This year our focus is on continuing to achieve the government's target of reaching 75 per cent of our most seriously ill or injured patients within eight minutes, as well as improving our response times for our category B patients.

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