Despite hearing reports of progress in keeping the books balanced, councillors at Hertfordshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on 7th February, 2013 felt that they had not received an adequate explanation in the recent sudden deterioration in ambulance response times.
In a situation where firefighters were expressing grave concern over delayed ambulance responses, and where police have been reported as ferrying patients to hospitals, councillor’s feelings were only inflamed by statements that the Trust was hitting performance targets “extremely well”.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Tring and the Villages, Nick Hollinghurst said, “Hitting tightly defined targets and ticking boxes is one thing, but performance and perceptions out here in the real world are what count. Recent press reports are extremely disappointing, especially after the successful improvements and innovations which we’ve seen in the recent past.”
The Trust highlighted as a particular problems incidents where an ambulance is required to the follow up a response by a single paramedic. In addition, handover delays at Hospitals have resulted in ambulances being unable to get back out to deal with their next call.
The Trust have however promised that another 200 specialised staff are being recruited and fundamental changes in working practices and in the three control centres are also being made.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor for St Albans Central, Chris White, commented “We welcome the recognition that something must be done to improve this unacceptable situation. The Liberal Democrats will be keeping a close eye on developments and will ensure that the Trust are held to account.”
The County Health Scrutiny Committee decided to review the situation in Autumn 2013.
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