Shropshire 999 response times are ‘a minor miracle’
The number of ambulances on the road in Shropshire would need to almost triple in order to meet response time targets, bosses say.
West Midlands Ambulance Service currently has 38 ambulances on the road in the county, but would need another 75 on top of that to meet the seven-minute average category one response time.
Mark Docherty, executive director of clinical commissioning at the service, said it was performing a “minor miracle” to respond as well as it is.
And he said the chances of getting the extra ambulances were almost non-existent as it would cost an extra £45 million a year.
Mr Docherty was speaking at a meeting of Shropshire Council’s health and adult social care overview committee yesterday.
He said that in 2018/19 there were 2,639 category one calls in Shropshire, which is for the most serious incidents, where the patient has already stopped breathing or is unconscious.
The target is for an average response time of seven minutes.
The average response time in Shropshire was 10 minutes 44 seconds.
In Telford & Wrekin, there were 1,710 category one calls, with an average response of six minutes 52 seconds.
Mr Docherty said this was because of the rurality of the area.
He said: “These category one calls are for a small number of people and they are for people who have stopped breathing and need an ambulance right now.
“Really it is a minor miracle for a rural area that the time are as they are. We take our response times very seriously.
“We are the fastest-responding ambulance service in the country by a far mile.
“If we wanted an ambulance within six or seven minutes of everyone in Shropshire we would need another 75 ambulances on the road.
“We currently have 38 in Shropshire and to get those extra 75 would cost £45 million a year.
“It is the nature of the area, but we want to see more people trained in life support and getting defibrillators.
“We need defibrillators on street corners, this is going to help save lives more than more ambulances.”
Councillor Heather Kidd, member for Chirbury and Worthen, said she was worried about those in more rural areas. “There may be fewer of us in these very rural areas, but we are as important as anywhere. Sometimes it can be a 40-minute wait for an emergency and it does take time to get to these rural areas.”
“It’s good to see that response times average out well, but it is these rural areas that worry me.”