Ambulance service addresses concerns

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AMBULANCE services in Skegness are ‘struggling’ due to financial strains, limited resources, hospital ‘bottle-necks’ and an influx of seasonal visitors, its providers claim.

Representatives of East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) attended a Skegness Hospital Watch meeting on Thursday to explain how the system operates and address concerns about its effectiveness.

The service’s ability to respond to life-threatening call-outs within the eight minute target time was one concern raised.

Although Lincolnshire just meets the 75 per cent government target, assistant director at EMAS Peter Jones explained that the county’s road network made it a difficult task with the resources available.

“It has long been established that we need more ambulances in Lincolnshire - it’s a constant battle trying to get more because of the financial problems,” he said.

Faced with cuts across the health service, Mr Jones was not optimistic that the financial situation would improve in the near future but assured those at the meeting that cuts would not affect staffing or quality.

“We are in the same business of having to save money as the rest of the health service but the last thing I would consider is staff reductions”

Hospital Watch members were pleased to hear staff would be prioritised and lauded praise on the brave men and women in the service.

Travel times to hospitals after collecting patients were also said to be longer than in other areas of the East Midlands, which the EMAS representatives attributed to a lack of specialist treatment facilities in Lincolnshire.

Ambulances waiting to hand over patients to hospitals was another issue said to delay the service.

Divisional operations manager Steve Pratten explained that in some cases paramedics had to wait several hours to hand over patients and up to half of the county’s fleet of ambulances could be in a queue.

Although EMAS’s introduction of hospital ambulance liaison officers had improved the situation, Mr Jones and Mr Pratten both felt the hospitals could do more.

The 4.6million yearly visitors to Lincolnshire’s coast were also said to place a strain on resources.

Although the service bases its cover on estimated call volumes dependent by the time of year rather than the number of full time residents, some of those present at the meeting felt a special ‘coastal allowance’ should be provided such as those offered to the South West Ambulance Service.