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East Midlands Ambulance Service failed to hit response targets for 12 months

East Midlands Ambulance Service failed to hit response time targets in Nottinghamshire for the most serious calls for 12 months in a row.

Longer-than-anticipated patient handovers to hospitals have been blamed, with bosses saying the service is under “immense, sustained pressure”.

Category one ambulance calls – those classed as life-threatening, time-critical incidents – should be attended to in an average of seven minutes from the call first being made.

However, figures show crews failed to hit this target in Nottinghamshire in each of the 12 months to July 2022.

June and July saw some of the longest response times for serious calls in the year – the average in both months hit eight-and-a-half minutes or above.

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Besides Nottinghamshire, the service also covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire.

Greg Cox, divisional director for Nottinghamshire at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We are currently experiencing immense, sustained pressure on our service.

“Our staff are continuing to work hard to prioritise the sickest and most severely injured patients.

“We continue to work closely with all our health and social care colleagues across Nottinghamshire in response to the ongoing high levels of demand being experienced across the wider NHS system.”

Councillor David Martin (Ash Ind), vice-chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s adult social care and public health scrutiny committee, recently met EMAS bosses to discuss the problems facing crews.

He said: “What is clear is that EMAS have an extremely challenging job and need more support.

“Our paramedics do a wonderful job but speak of spending whole shifts sat queuing outside hospitals – morale is at an all-time low.

“Our ambulance crisis will only get worse with the winter coming fast and the cost of living crisis biting.

“We’ve all heard the horror stories of people with life-threatening conditions turning to taxis to get to A&E, and others waiting hours for an ambulance.  Sorting out our ambulance crisis should be a key priority.”

Wider regional targets say nine out of 10 category one calls should be responded to within 15 minutes and, in Nottinghamshire, EMAS managed to hit this target in all months except July.

But for category two calls – those classed as an emergency but not immediately life-threatening – crews significantly missed their target across the county.

Category two incidents should be reached within 18 minutes of a call being made.

This was missed across Nottinghamshire in each of the 12 months.

July saw the longest response times for any month, with crews taking about 57 minutes on average to arrive at the scene for category two calls made in the county.

The longest response time for a Nottinghamshire category two incident in July was about two hours and nine minutes.

This was significantly above wider regional targets stating 90 per cent of category two incidents should receive a response in no longer than 40 minutes.

But EMAS says response times have lengthened as crews face longer-than-expected turnaround times for transferring patients into hospitals.

On average, patient turnaround took between 36 and 43 minutes across all months from August to June, with July’s figure at about the 45-minute mark.

This was three times more than the systemwide target of 15 minutes from ambulance to hospital bed.

The organisation adds long turnarounds caused Nottinghamshire EMAS crews to lose about 73 hours per day in July, with the year total of lost hours at about 22,200 for incidents in the city and county.

EMAS bosses will present the figures to councillors on the authority’s health scrutiny committee on September 20.

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