Ambulance response times still in spotlight

It was a busy start to this year as NEAS received more than a thousand calls in just 12 hours over the new year.
It was a busy start to this year as NEAS received more than a thousand calls in just 12 hours over the new year.

The North East Ambulance Service missed its two main response targets in Northumberland in the first half of this financial year.

The information is included in a report from the Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which went before the county council’s care and wellbeing scrutiny committee earlier this week.

Between April and September 2015, at CCG level, 71 per cent of calls met the eight-minute response target, which is lower than the North-East average of 74.3 per cent, and 90 per cent met the 19-minute target, compared to the North-East average of 94.8 per cent. The Northumberland targets are 73 per cent and 95 per cent respectively.

The covering report continues: ‘There is substantial variation in the length of time taken for a GP urgent call response to arrive compared to the requested time and the proportion of calls closed with the need for transport to A&E is one of the highest for ambulance trusts in England’.

However, ‘it should be noted that the issues outlined in the report are being experienced across the North East and not specifically Northumberland’.

The report also explains that the opening of the new emergency-care hospital in Cramlington has highlighted some handover issues resulting in unnecessary delays that are not NEAS-driven.

A joint action plan to address the issues has been developed, which will continue to be closely monitored.

County highlighted as good practice in national guidance

Continued partnership working and adapting to significant changes in the law are among the key issues highlighted in the 2014/15 annual report of the Northumberland Carers’ Strategy.

As explained in the report to the county council’s care and wellbeing scrutiny committee, the Care Act 2014 lays down a new legal framework for adult social care and establishes the ‘well-being principle’ – an over-arching approach which covers a range of outcomes.

Also, the Children and Families Act 2014 has amended the Children Act 1989 and brings new rights for young carers by clarifying the law relating to young carers as well as addressing the council as a whole.

NHS England Commitment to Carers was released in May 2014 and, followed by the Commissioning for Carers Principles in September 2014, ‘two case studies outlining work in Northumberland were chosen as evidence of good practice to accompany this important national guidance’.

In light of these changes, a number of new processes have been introduced while partnership work continues to strengthen and grow.

Ageing population is getting key support

The most effective action to support older people in the county continues to be about connecting people to existing activities and supporting the partnership development of new and sustainable ones.

That’s according to the annual report of the Ageing Well in Northumberland programme for 2014/15, which also assesses that ‘bringing together a range of partners under a common aim can be more effective in meeting the needs of older people in their local communities’.

The report also refers to a number of new initiatives introduced in the last year.