Ambulance service delays ‘not acceptable’ says MP

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Long delays by the South East Coast Ambulance service in treating a woman who fell off her bicycle on an icy road have been condemned by Horsham MP Jeremy Quin as ‘simply not acceptable.’

The cyclist - a woman in her 60s - had to wait by the roadside for three hours for medical help after the accident last week in Kerves Lane, Horsham.

Mr Quin said he was ‘deeply concerned’ and had immediately contacted SECamb chief executive Daren Mochrie who told him: “This was not an acceptable level of service and we have apologised.”

Mr Quin said that he is now to meet up with Mr Mochrie in the new year to investigate amublance response times. “It is critical that resources are used as effectively as possible to meet patient need across the region,” he said.

The Kerves Lane incident was the second within weeks in which an ambulance had taken hours to reach the scene. In a previous incident, a man who suffered a fall in East Street, Horsham, had to wait for four hours for emergency help.

Mr Mochrie, who took on the chief executive role at SECamb earlier this year, said he had been focused on turning round the performance of the ambulance service - which has been in special measures since September 2016.

He said that, as well as conducting work to ensure ambulances are used most effectively for patients across the area, SECamb and the local clinical commissiong group was using Horsham from January to pilot a ‘specialist reaction mobile team practitioner’ who would be available to respond solely to urgent local need.

He said an ambulance response report is currently being drawn up on how best to use resources to match demand. “This is in particular looking closely at the ‘turnaround’ time of ambulances at A&E departments.

“Enhanced diagnostic equipment and expert paramedics do excellent work in stabilising patients and even safely releasing them home without the need for a hospital visit: this may provide the best patient outcomes but in doing so it reduces ambulance availability to respond swiftly to patients whose injuries may not be life-threatening but are distressing and still require urgent attention.”

Meanwhile, Mr Quin added that he had been assured that “especially in these cold weather conditions, if patients are outside with non-life threatening injuries they will be prioritised to ensure they don’t suffer extended delays.”

He added: “However, where there are delays I am very keen to hear direct from constituents so that these can be taken up and addressed. In these circumstances I would ask constituents to please get in touch as soon as they are able and let me know the details so this can be pursued.”