West Midlands Ambulance response times 'second worst'

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West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) had the second worst response rate in England for serious emergencies in 2009-10 after Yorkshire's service.

The National Audit Office (NAO) said WMAS had responded within eight minutes 72.5% of the time. The Yorkshire Ambulance Service figure was 70.8%.

The national target is to respond within eight minutes 75% of the time.

Both ambulance services said the data was out of date and they had since improved their response times.

Funding problems

Before the financial year 2009-10, WMAS NHS Trust argued that it was among the worst-funded ambulance services in the country.

An independent study, the Lightfoot report, concluded in September 2009 that WMAS had been historically underfunded.

As a result WMAS received more NHS funding and for the remaining months of that financial year, it achieved all of its national performance targets.

A spokesman for WMAS said: "The Transforming NHS ambulance services - National Audit Office report carries a variety of information (including ambulance response times) up to the end of the 2009-10 financial year.

Care Quality Commission

"It does not carry any information for the year 2010-11 and therefore does not reflect West Midlands Ambulance Service's significant improvement in response times during that year."

WMAS service said its response time to serious emergencies within eight minutes in April 2011 was 76.8%.

The poor performance of YAS in 2009 was reported to the Care Quality Commission, after which it took urgent action to improve, which included addressing staffing issues.

Between April and August 2010 YAS responded to 76.1% of serious emergencies within eight minutes and in August last year the figure was 78.8%.

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