Friday, 11 December 2009

Local Blog - Questions For South Central Ambulance Service After Weak Performance‏

I attended the Reading Housing, Health & Community Care Scrutiny Panel in order to raise some questions after a recent comment left on this blog here. This was chaired by Redlands, Reading Lib Dem Councillor Daisy Benson, she has written a report on this meeting here.

This was after the Care Quality Commission rated the South Central Ambulance Trust performance for attending calls on time as 'Weak' See Bracknell Blog story here.

The South Central Ambulance trust gave a detailed presentation of why they had preformed as 'weak' in the report and explained how they were going to meet the target. The main reasons given were;

1. Increase in Demand from many area of society (i.e. Drunks and nursing homes, end of life.), Psychiatric referrals.

2. Effective 90 second drop in call time due to changes in the way the call is measured (i.e. from the start of the call not when the ambulance is sent). This required an improvement of 26%, the service achieved 19% improvement.

3. Difficulties in recruiting staff as many services were recruiting staff (including Australia) at this time to meet the new standards.

4. Degrees now required when the service could previously train the staff themselves.

5. Their own heart attack data was not correctly recorded.

6. Blood pressure was not always recorded.

7. A&E waiting effect.

After the presentation I asked a few questions.

I asked two questions the first was 'Does the pay structure of the ambulance staff adversely effect the recruitment and retainment of staff. And if so can pan and incentives be improved by offsetting against the high cost of cover/agency fees?"

The reply was quite long and included information about the agenda for change and detail about recruitment issues as listed above. (Which is the pay rate structure used by the service). They also added that they had recruited 300 additional staff.

I then asked "I do know about the agenda for change and the pay band structure but I am concerned about retaining staff as I am aware that this is an issue for some stations?", I was informed that it was not in Reading (perhaps I should of asked about Bracknell, however this was a Reading meeting so I didn't). I was also told that they have just recruited 17 more staff in the West Berkshire area. I do regret not asking about ambulance station Bracknell itself especially after the chair Councillor Daisy Benson did allow me to ask another question.

The South Central Ambulance is however confidant that they will meet the call targets (at the moment they are within the target but the winter months are normally harder to achieve). The service is also adding or added a new call centre service which allows better coordination between the 3 call centres and joined up emergency response allowing each sit to cover the other when busy.

I believe the representative from the Trust were very open and honest. The Reading councillors did raise a number of questions and there was a lot of concern about making partnerships work with other health related services to improve performance.

I was also concerned that the merger between the 4 counties of Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire that the old ambulance stock purchases for Oxford had delayed the purchase of Berkshire ambulances.

I will keep an eye on this and the other healthcares stories and attend meetings when I can, in order to raise more questions if required.

Readers of this blog may also be interested to read this story on Get Bracknell here where the NHS Berkshire East has been judged in a review to not be meeting the Care Quality Commission standards relating to ensuring staff can spot child abused.

Also please do go and to sign Russ Bryant Number 10 Petition can be signed here for keeping Heathwood hospital open in light of the Trusts funding issues.

No comments:

Post a Comment