To receive and note the update.
Cllr V Holliday – Chair of the Coastal Parish and Towns Ambulance Response Times Working Group introduced the report and informed Members that response times were still not meeting targets with wide variations across the District. She added that the Committee had previously looked at category one call-outs for life threatening situations and noted that EEAST were in some areas achieving targets, though not across the board. It was noted that EEAST still found category two calls, relating to emergencies such as heart attacks and strokes challenging. On category three calls, relating to assaults and falls, there still appeared to be unacceptably long wait times. Cllr V Holliday stated that the data suggested it was now more important to focus efforts on categories two and three, where it had been suggested that there was a correlation between turnaround times at hospitals and ambulance response times. She added that the data suggested that ambulance time lost to delays at hospitals amounted to 3000 hours across the County. It was noted that rapid response vehicles (RRVs) remained important, with two in North Norfolk, one of which had recently been relocated to Fakenham to help with poor response times in the West, though it was too soon to determine its impact. Cllr V Holliday stated that nationally RRV numbers were falling in favour of more ambulances, though this was not a preferred model for North Norfolk. She added that Community First Responders were also engaging with Parish and Town Councils to help recruit more staff, with funds available to purchase an additional first response vehicle. Cllr V Holliday suggested that it could be helpful to call in the CCG to discuss the deeper issues effecting ambulance response times, as she expected that EEAST were doing all they could with the available resources. She added that it was also important to continue to lobby local MPs on the matter, to ensure that concerns were raised in Parliament.
Questions and Discussion
i. The Chairman asked Cllr E Spagnola whether NHOSC were due to review the issue again in the near future, to which she replied that it was not currently on the Committee’s work programme, though could be expected later in the year. She confirmed that a key issue was turnaround times at hospitals, with patients left on ambulances for considerable periods. It was noted that slow response times remained a national issue, and there were significant issues that had to be resolved.
ii. Cllr T Adams referred to call times and noted that he had recently been involved in a situation that had taken thirteen minutes to reach a call handler on a 999 call. He added that ambulance response times had remained as expected, and he was aware that a significant number of bodies were all looking at the issue, and whilst some progress had been made, no significant breakthroughs had been achieved.
iii. Cllr A Brown stated that he was supportive of requesting that CCG representatives attend a future meeting, though he was unsure of what could be achieved by continuing to lobby local MPs on the matter. The Chairman suggested that if the CCG and EEAST could be involved in discussions first to determine what was required, then it may be more useful to lobby MPs on this basis.
iv. Cllr E Spagnola suggested that she was open to discussing the issue with Cllr V Holliday to see whether an approach could be agreed to better address the issue at NHOSC. Cllr V Holliday agreed that she would be happy to discuss the issue, but noted that issues of rurality faced by the District were unlikely to be addressed at a County level. The Chairman suggested that for this reason, it was reasonable for the Committee to consider requesting the attendance of the CCG and EEAST, to address the issue at a more local level.
v. Mr D Russell made a public statement and noted that he was supportive of any actions taken by the Committee to request the attendance of the CCG, EEAST and A&E representatives to a future meeting. He added thanks to Duncan Banker MP who had also made efforts to address local issues and support RRVs.
vi. It was proposed by Cllr E Spagnola and seconded by Cllr A Brown that that representatives of the Norfolk and Waveney CCG and EEAST be invited to attend a future Overview & Scrutiny Committee Meeting, to address issues relating to category 2 and 3 ambulance response times in North Norfolk.
1. To note the update.
2. To request that representatives of the Norfolk CCG and EEAST attend a future Overview & Scrutiny Committee Meeting, to address issues relating to category 2 and 3 ambulance response time in North Norfolk.