It may be one of the hottest summers on record but Witham MP Priti Patel has been questioning the Government over plans to prepare for forthcoming winter pressures on ambulance services. Last winter saw record levels of demand on NHS services, including the ambulance service in the East of England as more patients needed hospital treatment. In response, Health Minister Stephen Barclay has confirmed over £36 million of investment in ambulance services including support for the East of England and the development of a vehicle preparation hub. Priti, who has been a longstanding campaigner for improving ambulance services, said:
“Last winter frontline NHS staff performed brilliantly but record levels of demand did affect the performance of some services. Lessons have been learned and I am pleased to see preparation for winter 2018/19 is taking place. It may be a few months away but early planning is key to ensuring patients get the best care possible.”
“I welcome the support being given to the East of England Ambulance Service NNHS Trust which serves my constituents and additional funding for 330 new staff and 160 new ambulances will make a big difference.”
Ambulance Services: Written question - 906626
Asked by Priti Patel
Asked on: 23 July 2018
Department of Health and Social Care
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he has taken to ensure support for ambulance trusts during winter 2018-19.
Answered by: Stephen Barclay
Answered on: 24 July 2018
I have been engaging with NHS Improvement, NHS England and the ambulance service to support improved ambulance performance.
To help meet pressures this winter and beyond, on 6 July we announced £36.3 million of investment in the ambulance service that will be used to purchase 256 state-of-the art ambulances at five ambulance trusts, and to develop vehicle preparation hubs in the East of England and Yorkshire, which will see specialist staff quickly restock, refuel and clean ambulances, getting them back on the road faster.
Additionally, following a rigorous independent evaluation, we have introduced an improved national performance framework for ambulances. These changes prioritise responses to the sickest patients, while helping to reduce long waits for ambulance responses; ensure patients receive the response they need, first time; and improve the efficiency and resilience of the ambulance service in the face of rising demand.
Challenged ambulance trusts, including the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), are receiving tailored support to meet the new national response time standards. This includes comprehensive cross-system reviews led by regional directors, and the implementation of performance improvement plans. Further actions to deliver improvement at EEAST include additional funding for 330 new staff and 160 new ambulances, alongside the implementation of recommendations from the recently published governance review of the Trust. This will ensure the Trust has appropriate capacity and governance processes in place to meet demand and deliver high quality ambulance responses to patients.