Sunderland ambulances fail response time targets after cutbacks

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AMBULANCES are failing Government targets for getting patients into A&E and being ready for the next emergency call.

New figures show that for crews going to Sunderland Royal Hospital, the average turnaround time has risen from 19 minutes 46 seconds in 2010, to 30 minutes 45 seconds in 2012 – the slowest in the North East.

It means that ambulances going to the Royal are missing the national target of 25 minutes from bringing a patient in and then being ready to go on the next call out.

The story was the same at seven out of eight hospitals in the region.

At University Hospital of North Durham, the turnaround time has gone from 18 minutes and 39 seconds in 2010, to 29 minutes and 14 seconds last year.

At South Tyneside Hospital, crews took 27 minutes and two seconds in 2012, compared to 19 minutes and 47 seconds in 2010.

Union bosses say budget cutbacks are to blame for putting strain on resources.

Trevor Johnston, Unison’s officer for health in the north, said: “The Government cutbacks mean staff can wait up to an hour, an hour and a half for ambulances to be turned round.

“That has a bad knock-on effect on people being picked up.

“There needs to be more resources poured into A&E departments, but at the moment there’s still pressure to cut staff,” he said.

The Echo reported last month how Paul Varley’s mother, Dorothy, 76, had to wait almost four hours for an ambulance after breaking her leg at her home in Horden.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “Those hospitals and ambulance trusts with long delays in getting patients into A&E need to look closely at how this can be prevented by working better together.”

A spokesman for the North East Ambulance Service said: “By communicating with each other daily, we try to forecast when peaks in demand may occur, and make appropriate plans.”

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