Bosses at the ambulance service that covers Cheshire say they are making changes to improve response times.
Roger Jones, sector manager at North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) NHS Trust, told the Cheshire West health and wellbeing board meeting this week that a 12-month ‘roster review’ is under way.
It is hoped it will help the service boost its performance and meet increasing demand – while also improving staff wellbeing.
In 2017-18, NWAS had an average response time of 9 minutes 43 seconds for the most severe ‘category one’ emergency calls such as cardiac arrest – compared to the national target of seven minutes.
At the same time, the trust’s average response time for ‘category two’ incidents – such as heart attacks, epilepsy or stroke – was 31 minutes 59 seconds, compared to the national target of 18 minutes.
Mr Jones said: “The service has been through some changes over the past few years. We have had our budget cut yet demand has been increasing year on year.
“We are now facing a time where we need to look differently at how we work, and this is why we are doing more public engagement and running services to help patients at an earlier stage.
“This [roster review] has been carried out at other ambulance trusts and has shown some improvement in response times and for the health and wellbeing of our staff.”
Mr Jones explained to the board that the roster review is one of a number of changes being made to improve performance.
More thorough assessments are now being carried out by consultants in 999 calls to make sure patients get the right help they need before an ambulance is necessarily sent out.
Meanwhile, the trust has invested in defibrillators and first responders to provide swift assistance to people in potentially life-threatening emergencies.
And triage advice has been sent out to care homes to help ensure elderly people get the treatment they need in the right place – rather than being sent off to A&E straight away.
Mr Jones added: “We know that A&E is the right place for some patients but it is not right for all patients – certainly for elderly and frail patients whose health is in decline.”