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Patients protest over 'harmful' changes to ambulance response times

17/07/2017

Patients have protested to commissioners over ‘harmful’ new London ambulance response time.

Under the changes, London Ambulance Service (LAS) responses to emergencies that are not life threatening have been downgraded with longer waits and lower targets.

Changes to LAS 'category C' response times will ‘substantially increase’ response times and harm patients through delays in patient care, according to the patients' forum for the LAS.

The forum says they falsely show the service achieving high response rates when in practice ‘performance is much worse’.

The changes are likely to affect older people who fall, mental health patients and patients in severe pain.

New ‘category C1’ response targets have changed from 90% of call-outs reaching patients within 20 minutes to 50% reaching patients within 45 minutes

New ‘category C2’ response times have changed from 90% reaching patients within half an hour to under half reaching patients within an hour.

In a letter to LAS commissioner Dr Kuldhir Johal, patients’ forum chair Malcolm Alexander said the change was made without proper consultation and posed a risk to patients.

‘Apparently all clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London have agreed to this deterioration in Category C responses, without any public consultation or discussion with the forum or with local Healthwatch,’ he said.

‘The target was changed in September 2016 when the LAS were failing to meet their C1 (20 minute) and C2 (30 minute). Instead of resourcing the LAS adequately, it appears that CCG have manipulated the target so that they can achieve compliance.

‘We believe there is a risk of harm to patients, because the revised target will lead to even longer waits for patient in severe pain, people with a mental health crisis and elderly people who have fallen,’ he added.

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