Agenda item

South West Ambulance Service Performance Update

To receive an update on South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWAST) performance indicators, including an update on performance in response to COVID-19 requirements.


The committee received an update from Stephanie Bonser, (County Commander for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust), on the performance of the South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST). The data briefing note presented at the meeting is attached to the minutes and can be viewed here.


The County Commander confirmed that activity in the Gloucestershire area had increased during the 12 month period from January to December 2020, (in response to the impact of the COVID-19 emergency). Activity had decreased slightly during the initial lockdown, increased slightly from June, and was currently showing a significant increase since December 2020. It was confirmed that, after a slight reduction from an average of 8.2 minutes for the Category 1 average response target in November 2020, there had been a significant challenge on response targets since December. Increased pressure on service crews has resulted in handover delays. Category 2 response targets had also been affected during this time, with an average response time of 22.4 minutes against a target average of 18.


Prior to December, response times for the 12 month period commencing October 2019, had reported performance averages against Category 1 response targets, (life threatening injuries and illnesses/target average of 7 minutes), as fairly steady, whilst performance averages against Category 2 response targets, (emergency calls/target average of 18 minutes), and Category 3 response targets, (urgent calls/target average of 90% within 120 minutes), had improved during the last 3 months.


Collaboration with Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service, (GFRS), from November 2020 had resulted in crews attending 428 incidents. The work of paramedics, trained first responders, community response managers and the rigorous hygiene and infection control of ambulance crews, aimed to ensure minimal impact on the welfare and care of patients during the COVID-19 emergency, including admissions to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. The Trust continued to adhere to Government guidelines in order to protect its staff, patients and members of the public.


An update on performance against agreed national standards was included in the GCCG performance report to the committee, (this item was considered at item 8 of the agenda).


Responding to concerns about ambulance response times in rural areas, (prior to and after the pandemic), it was acknowledged that, whilst this would always present a challenge, the position was comparable to other rural areas nationally. Rota planning and projections of where calls from rural locations were most likely would continue to assist in managing the issue. A decision a few years ago, to place an extra ambulance crew in the Cotswolds District, had not made a significant impact.


Other questions related to the need to review performance response time averages; the relationship between SWAST and GFRS; and the vaccination roll out to ambulance crews. In response to the questions, it was confirmed that performance averages would be reviewed if the national average continued to increase; the relationship between community first responders and GFRS crew had been excellent during the pandemic, (it was recognised that it was important to continue this relationship going forward); vaccinations were being offered to all front line paramedics and community first responders.


Enquiring about the level of training provided to community first responders, (and GFRS crew), members were assured that the training was very good and continued to be built on as the service requirements changed to meet new and more challenging requirements.


Responding to questions on what proportion of front line SWAST staff had been vaccinated against the coronavirus, it was reported that the number of vaccinations in the South West region was comparable with other regions nationally. It was suggested that an update on the vaccination roll-out programme be included in the ICS lead report at the next meeting and a presentation made to the committee later in the year. The presentation to include comparisons with other areas, including examples of good practice. Action by – GCCG/SWAST


The committee noted the information and requested regular updates at future meetings. It was later suggested a presentation be made to the new committee after the County Council election in May. Action by Jo Moore Since the meeting, a request has been made for SWAST to give an update at the committee meeting on 13 July 2020.

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