THE ambulance service responsible for serving the Cotswolds is not fit for purpose, according to the leader of the district council.
Cllr Lynden Stowe made the remarks at a Cotswold District Council meeting on Thursday, February 27 after Cotswold Lib Dem leader Cllr Paul Hodgkinson proposed a motion calling on the council to send a message to the ambulance service to improve its response times.
The national target for 999 callouts is that 75 per cent of patients should be responded to within the specified time of eight minutes.
However, the new figures reveal that South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) was missing that target by more than 30 per cent, with just 46 per cent of Cotswold patients were being responded to within that time.
In Cheltenham and Gloucester, 94 per cent and 88 per cent of emergency patients, respectively, receive an ambulance within the eight minute timeframe.
“The latest figures are very worrying. They show that we have the worst times in the whole of the South West, no other district has worse record than the Cotswolds,” Cllr Hodgkinson told the council.
He added: “I am calling on the council to put pressure on the ambulance service to hit its target in the Cotswolds. By making a united stand, we can send a clear message that we deserve better.”
Cllr Hodgkinson drew attention to a man from Siddington who collapsed on the street and had to wait on the pavement for an hour and a half before help arrived.
Last year Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said he would be raising the matter with health ministers if South Western Ambulance did not improve its service.
He said: “The ambulance provision appears to be simply not good enough for my constituents in the Cotswolds and I will be demanding an urgent explanation from the chief executive.”
Cllr Joe Harris told members that the performance of the service had slipped following its merger with SWAS and that a county-based unit was needed.
Members from CDC’s different political parties voted unanimously in favour of David Neudegg, the council’s chief executive, taking the issue up with the head of the ambulance service.
A spokesman for SWAS said that rural areas such as the Cotswolds had always represented a challenge in terms of response times.
“The average time it takes for an ambulance resource to arrive at the scene of a RED emergency call is 9.44 minutes within the Cotswolds and we are working hard to bring this within the required eight minute standard.”