Extra ambulance could be based in Cirencester in effort to improve response times in the Cotswolds

Ambulance in Cirencester's Market Place

Ambulance in Cirencester's Market Place

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AN EXTRA ambulance could be based in Cirencester in an attempt to improve the time taken to attend to emergencies in the Cotswolds.

That was the outcome of a meeting between Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Ken Wenman, chief executive of South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS), to discuss how response times in the district can bettered.

Mr Wenman said that the new ambulance would be brought to Cirencester subject to the 2014/15 funding round.

Cllr Jenny Hincks, whose husband was left waiting more than two hours for an ambulance, welcomed the news.

“Another ambulance means that the waiting times will come down and that can only be a good thing. I really think it will benefit the whole town,” she said.

The chief executive also claimed that the ambulance service in the Cotswolds was being put under pressure by an increase in callouts from the NHS 111 telephone services and that some journey times have increased following the closure of some services at Cheltenham General Hospital.

It follows last year’s alarming news that ambulance response times in the Cotswolds are the worst in the whole of the South West of England.

The most recent figures show that ambulances attending life-threatening calls in the Cotswolds have failed to meet their target by nearly 30 per cent.

The national target for 999 callouts is that 75 per cent of patients should be responded to within the specified time of eight minutes, only 46 per cent of Cotswold patients were responded to in that timeframe.

Speaking to the Standard earlier this week, Mr Wenman said that SWAS had been monitoring demand “closely” to ensure it is able to match its ambulance availability.

“We also recognise the importance of the first few minutes of an emergency. Increasing the numbers of community responder schemes and public access defibrillators will improve patient care during the critical minutes when an ambulance is en route,” he said.

A number of high profile shortcomings in recent has heaped embarrassment onto the ambulance service in the Cotswolds.

In 2007, 23-year-old Royal Agricultural University student Rebecca Wedd was left dying on the roadside after being struck by a car.

It took 45 minutes for an ambulance from Gloucester to arrive at the scene. Rebecca died in hospital the next day.

Summing up the meeting, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said: “I get the impression that the management understand the problems relating to the Cotswolds. But I will be working closely with them to ensure that they provide better overall performance.”

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