North West Ambulance Service 'not hitting targets'

NWAS Ambulance
Image caption The service says it is getting an increasing number of what it terms Red Calls, those involving a threat-to-life

The North West Ambulance Service has admitted it is struggling to hit national response targets due to a rise in the number of threat-to-life calls.

A statement from the service (NWAS) said the number of 999 calls it has received increased by 25% this year.

In 2015, the service was 6% below the national target for services to respond to an emergency within eight minutes.

Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside, Cumbria and Lancashire ambulance services merged in 2006.

"We were disappointed not to have hit the target at the end of the last year and are working hard to improve our performance," NWAS said in a statement.

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Media captionNorth West Ambulance Service in numbers

"Because of the rise in life-threatening calls, it's highly likely people with less urgent injuries or illnesses will wait longer for an ambulance, as we must prioritise those who need our help more quickly."

'Virtually impossible'

The trust said it believes too many people are dialling 999 for minor ailments, which could easily be dealt with by visiting a pharmacy, a GP a walk-in centre or minor injuries unit.

"We would urge people to carefully consider whether their condition warrants an emergency response," said the trust.

The national expectation is that 75% of what are termed Red 1 and Red 2 calls should be responded to within eight minutes - in 2014-15 the figure for NWAS was 69%.

That figure was the third worst in the country, which Graham Curry, NWAS sector manager for South Lancashire, said was "not that bad", considering the service is the largest in the UK.

"Obviously, we want to hit every performance [target] because, if we do, we're giving the best performance possible," he said.

"We do do our best; however, the demand is so great at the moment, we're finding it virtually impossible to deliver that at this time."

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