The latest Care Quality Commission (CQC) report on the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has meant the Trust has now left special measures.
It’s good news that some things are improving at the ambulance trust. But local people are still being failed on some crucial aspects of the service.
The same CQC report, which takes the trust out of special measures, also says that the Emergency Operations Centre (or control room) and Emergency and urgent care department still require improvement because they “could not provide care in a way that met the needs of local people and the communities served” and “People could not access the service when they needed it, in line with national standards, or receive the right care in a timely way.”
And this is what the report says that has meant in reality for patients.
“We noted patients waiting long periods…some for over 12 hours, and one patient who had waited over 24 hours for an ambulance to be dispatched.”
“Data showed a deteriorating response rate to category one to four calls over the previous 12 months…in March 2022, 75% of category one calls were on the scene within 15 minutes of dispatch compared to 94% in April 2021 against a standard of 90%. The percentage of category four calls on the scene from dispatch within three hours was 21% in March 2022 compared to 89% in April 2021 against a target of 90%.”
Those are pretty fundamental things we have a right to expect when we use an ambulance service. But why is this (still) happening, and why are things seeming to be getting worse?
“Factors contributing to these delays were long delays at accident and emergency departments, staff vacancy rates, sickness impacting the number of vehicles available and increased service user demand.”
These clearly are not all the fault of the ambulance trust or our health service, more generally. It’s another example of how almost two decades of the degradation, cuts to, and underfunding of, the public realm have brought so many of our social support systems to breaking point.
Read more about EEAST coming out of special measures here.