South Western Ambulance Service has failed to meet response times for the most urgent calls in Wiltshire for the ninth consecutive month.
Health regulator Monitor confirmed this week it has some concerns about response times and while it had not launched an investigation, it is talking to South Western about the issue.
For Red 1 calls – these are the most critical calls such as cardiac arrests which require an ambulance response within eight minutes 75 per cent of the time – South Western achieved a response rate of 57.25 per cent in Wiltshire during December and its performance from last April to December in Wiltshire was 58 per cent.
This was the worst performance in the entire South Western patch. In contrast South Western’s response rate in Swindon for Red 1 calls was 89.66 per cent in December and from April to December its performance was 88.2 per cent – the best in the entire South Western patch.
Across the entire South Western area the service’s response rate for Red 1 calls from April to December was 71.31 per cent.
South Western took over operating in Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire last February when it merged with Great Western Ambulance Service.
Simon Truelove, chief financial officer at Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said at a governing body meeting in Devizes on Tuesday that the CCG wanted to have equality of ambulance services across urban and rural areas.
He said: “We have started to see a very small upward trajectory in delivery but it’s not fast enough.”
A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service said: “We have a number of initiatives that will improve our response performance, such as community responder schemes using off-duty ambulance staff and other healthcare professionals.
“This is a serious matter for the trust board and one to which it is dedicating much time and focus.”