The Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) was told by local MP, Graham Stuart, that its response times in rural Holderness were not good enough, needed urgently to improve and should be a priority for the organisation.
The meeting in Beverley last Friday was set up by the campaigning MP to challenge YAS Chief Executive, David Whiting and local emergency director Vince Larvin to “get a grip” on response times in Mid Holderness. Graham was joined by Mid Holderness councillor, Peter Turner and local health campaigner, Coun Arthur Hodgson.
At the meeting Graham presented Mr Whiting with the Holderness Emergency Ambulance Response Times (HEART) petition signed by hundreds of constituents from across the area with the support of the Holderness Gazette. Many signatures had been gathered by the family of Ray Poole, of Hornsea, who died of a heart attack on October 8th after it took fifteen minutes for the first help to arrive.
A year ago Graham first identified the problem in Holderness following Freedom of Information requests. At that time the HU11 postcode area reached emergency calls within the target eight minutes on 48% of occasions against a national target of 75%. Graham met with Mr Whiting in October 2012 who agreed both that the performance was not good enough and that he would supply Graham with 6 monthly data in future. In November 2012 Graham toured all ambulance stations in the Beverley and Holderness constituency to talk directly to staff. In May this year Graham organised the HEART conference in Withernsea to promote hands only CPR and recruit more Community First Responders.
The latest performance data for January to June this year show that the eight minute target was met in Mid Holderness on just 45% of emergency calls.
Mr Whiting agreed with Graham that this service level required improvement. He said that YAS was committed to improving response times and was implementing improvement plans for the four worst performing Clinical Commissioning Group areas across the region, including the East Riding. They have a six-point plan involving altered staff rosters, the improvement of resources in Holderness, changes to call assignments so rural crews were more likely to return to their posts from Hull, an initiative to increase the number of publically available defibrillators, increased working with the fire service and further improvement in the number and quality of training of Community First Responder (CFR) volunteers. He said that the number of CFRs had been doubled from 70 to 150 over the last year in the East Riding.
Mr Whiting said, “We are committed to improving our service in the East Riding further, not just in terms of response times but also our continued focus on the quality of clinical care we provide which leads to better patient outcomes. Hull and the East Riding has one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the country thanks to the expertise of our ambulance staff and effective working with health partners. We aim to build on this and, with the help of the community and its representatives, give this area the best cardiac survival rates in this country.”
Graham said, “I think the vision of delivering truly world class cardiac survival rates is the right one. We’ve got a long way to go to match the likes of Seattle but that should be our aim. YAS is starting two new CFR schemes in January, one in Aldbrough and one in Patrington and I will be supporting YAS to get publically available defibrillators installed across our villages with training also provided for local people. Families like that of Ray Poole want to know that everything possible is being done to create a world class ambulance service which reduces the likelihood of others suffering as they have done.”