Council probes concerns over ambulance delays

Concerns over long delays by ambulances in reaching accident victims are being investigated by West Sussex County Council.

An East of England Ambulance Service Rapid Response Vehicle

Fears were first voiced before Christmas following two separate incidents when ambulances took more than three hours to attend the scenes of accidents.

In one incident, 65-year-old Jacqueline Jenden was left lying on an icy roadside for hours after falling from her bicycle in Kerves Lane, Horsham. And on an earlier occasion, a man had to wait for more than four hours for an ambulance after he suffered a fall in East Street.

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Horsham councillor Morwen Millson voiced concerns about the delays at a meeting of West Sussex County Council. And this week fellow councillor Amanda Jupp, cabinet member for adults and health at West Sussex County Council said:“I have raised Mrs Millson’s concerns with the chairman of the health and adult social care select committee Bryan Turner. Mr Turner meets the trust (South East Coast Ambulance Trust) regularly with other regional scrutiny chairmen and will I am sure, raise these issues with the trust at his next opportunity.

“If there are any other examples of poor performance across the county, the health and social care committee is able to call the chief executive of SECAmb to a future meeting to seek assurance that West Sussex residents are receiving the appropriate level of service in relation to ambulance response times.

“I also have a meeting arranged in the near future to join the chief executive and chairman of SECAmb to discuss the implementation of the new national Ambulance Response Programme and I will certainly bear in mind the issues that have been highlighted.”

She also said that the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service “supports SECAmb at the scene of operational incidents, in particular road traffic collisions. In addition the service is currently introducing a new SECAmb accredited Immediate Emergency Care qualification which will enhance the medical/trauma skills of our operational personnel.

“Phase 1 of this process has resulted in the training of approximately 100 staff, 34 of which are new whole-time (full time) recruits.

“WSFRS has also recently participated in a National Emergency Medical Response trial. This involved Immediate Emergency Care Responder trained personnel responding to cardiac arrests alongside SECAmb personnel and often in advance of SECAmb resources where they are shown to be nearer to the incident.

“While the EMR trial has now ended pending further national negotiations with the Fire Service National Employers the National Joint Council and the national representative bodies, there is a strong willingness at both strategic and operational level within WSFRS to agree arrangements to support EMR activity when National negotiations are concluded.”

Meanwhile, Horsham MP Jeremy Quin has described the recent ambulance delays as ‘unacceptable’ and has raised his own concerns with South East Coast Ambulance service chief executive Daren Mochrie. He is to meet up with him in January.