Agenda item

Update report regarding A&E and Winter Pressures - North West Ambulance Service


The Committee considered a presentation from Mr Dave Kitchin, Head of Service, Cheshire and Merseyside, Ms Julie Treharne, Head of Communications and Ms Debbie Mallett, Service Development Manager giving an update on A & E and Winter Pressures faced by the North West Ambulance Service.


Mr Kitchin gave Members detailed information regarding the NWAS (North West Ambulance Service) and in particular:


·  Service provision

·  Performance standards for 999 calls

·  Wirral’s red activity 2013/14 vs 2014/15 and year to date

·  Details in relation to health care professional activity by the hour

·  Information regarding the top five calls received

·  Details of the Wirral demand by category of call

·  Arrival information to Wirral University Teaching Hospital

·  Changes to the service and emergency and urgent care.


In relation to Wirral’s Red activity, Mr Kitchin indicated that it was unlikely that it would meet the 8 minute target for red calls (75%) for the year ending 2015.


Ms Treharne indicated that the service had launched an initiative to create a better understanding by the public about what to expect when calling 999.  Team 999 aimed to educate the public about the changing roles of the ambulance service, in particular, how it no longer simply sends ambulances to all incidents or takes every patient to an Emergency Department in order to ensure patients receive the right care for their needs and in the right place.


In response to a Member, Mr Kitchin indicated that in relation to the very high volume of ‘999’ calls received, responding to patients with mental health problems was a key issue for the service.


7-8% of calls received were from the Police to assist in the transfer of mental health patients in crisis to a mental health bed.  This could be out of the region which takes both staff and vehicles out of service for significant period of time.


Mr Kitchin further indicated that where older ambulance stations were no longer viable or fit for purpose, the service was co-locating with the fire service to  provide new and improved facilities in the local community.


Mr Kitchin reported that the purpose of the Frequent Callers Project was to identify and work with patients with unmet health and social care needs and those who need further support due to gaps within their care needs.


In relation to handover times especially in Arrowe Park, these had been high since January, approximately 22 minutes compared to the 15 minute target; this is due to acute hospitals struggling to deal with the demand; regular telephone conferences calls take place with Arrowe Park to look at turnaround times. February saw an improvement in the handover times and it was hoped that this would show a continual improvement.


The Chair asked about the delays in hospital handovers and the reports that patients were backing up at the point of handover and in ambulances for up to several hours with two ambulance crews looking after a number of waiting ambulances. In response, it was reported that NWAS was in regular dialogue with hospitals to look at ways to improve handover times.


In response to a Member, Mr Kitchin indicated that that the Department had to answer to NHS England on any serious delay in handover/waiting times. The Chair asked if information could be provided to the Committee on this.


In response to a further question from a Member, Mr Kitchin indicated that the 999 call takers prioritise calls according to patient condition.  If the patients’ health deteriorated the call would then be upgraded.


He concluded by indicating that the service had a funding shortfall of approximately £42 million pounds for the North West as a whole in the next financial year.  Mr Kitchin indicated that it was difficult to see how the growth in demand could be sustained.


In response to request by Member, Ms Treharne agreed to forward further information to the Committee regarding Team 999.




(1)  Mr Kitchin, Ms Treharne and Ms D Mallett be thanked for their informative report and presentation;


(2)  Ms Treharne be requested to forward further information to the Committee regarding Team 999; and


(3)  Mr Kitchin be asked to provide to the Committee information in relation to any serious delay in handover/waiting times.



Supporting documents: