A MOTION by the Lib Dems for urgent improvements to ambulance response times has been unanimously backed by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) members.

The party raised the motion at the GCC meeting last week as it is unhappy that South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s (SWASFT) failure to meet their 75% target in responding to ‘Red’ calls within 8 minutes in four out of six districts in Gloucestershire.

Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, leader of the Cotswold District Council Lib Dems, said:“The latest figure for Gloucestershire shows that the 8 minute response target is being reached across the county in 69.4% of cases.

“This figure however masks a real divide in what could be argued as a two tier service. Cheltenham and Gloucester show 88% and 87%, but Stroud, Tewkesbury and Forest of Dean ambulance response rates are much lower with the Cotswolds being just 46%.

”Lives depend on an effective and efficient ambulance service. No one doubts that getting to an incident in more remote areas is more challenging but if a target is set surely the service should be structured so that it is achieved?

“I am pleased that we got cross-party support over this very important issue and that both the Leader and Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council will now write to the CEO of the Trust calling on the Service to improve the ambulance response times.”

SWASFT defended its poor response time performance by saying that it is achieving its national response targets across the region and that it is not commissioned or required to achieve these national performance targets at county level.

A spokesman said: “The Trust is working hard with partners in Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and with councillors through the Health Scrutiny Committee to improve its performance in some rural parts of Gloucestershire.

“A great deal of work has already been undertaken to improve response times in rural areas. The Trust is pleased to announce an additional £700,000 of resources for Gloucestershire to improve performance.”

He  went on to explain  that the resources will be spent on an additional 24-hour frontline ambulance for both Stroud and Staverton as well as an additional 12-hour Rapid Response Vehicle for Staverton and another 120 defibrillators across the county.

“The Trust is investing £3.9 million of additional resources into its North Division - Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol, Swindon, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset and B&NES – including additional resources in Bristol and Avon to help prevent these areas pulling in rural resources. The Trust will await the letter from Gloucestershire County Council but is confident that it can address the issues raised.”

Commenting on the Trust’s receiving the £700,000 of resources, Cllr Hodgkinson said:“The extra resources is very good news. I am delighted that the Trust has finally seen that there is a real need to act on improving performance. I look forward to seeing how these additional funds will impact the Cotswolds.”