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SECAmb asks for public’s support as demand remains high

21 June 2016

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) is asking the public for its continued support as demand across the region remains high.

Across its Kent, Surrey and Sussex region the Trust has responded to close to 350,000 999 calls since January this year (to 19 June) – up more than 30,000 on the same period in 2015.

The Trust is working hard to meet this additional demand but acknowledges that it is failing to reach some patients as quickly as it would like. The Trust would like to thank its hard working staff and apologise to any patients who may wait longer for an ambulance than they would expect.

In addition to high demand, delays at hospitals, which are also extremely busy, continue to be a significant issue for the Trust across our whole region. The Trust is continuing to work closely with all hospitals in its region to address the problem but these delays severely impact on the Trust’s ability to respond to patients as quickly as it would like.

The Trust is also working hard to fill a number of vacancies, including addressing a national shortage of paramedics and recruiting to positions in our Emergency Operations Centres.

Acting Chief Executive Geraint Davies said: “The demand on the Trust continues to be extremely high and, as ever, all our staff are rising to the challenge and I’m extremely proud of their commitment and effort. I’d also like to apologise that it is taking us longer than we would like and expect to respond to patients.

“I want to reassure the public that improving our performance in spite of these challenges and improving the service we provide to all our patients is my top priority. We are very aware that there are some significant improvements which we need to address, as was highlighted with our recent CQC inspection. We were aware and already taking action to address many of these issues and that work will continue so that we provide our patients with the service they rightly expect and deserve and so that our staff feel valued as they perform such a challenging role.”

SECAmb would also like to take this opportunity to remind the public that 999 should only be used in an emergency. Anyone faced with a medical emergency shouldn’t hesitate to call but it is urging anyone else who needs help to consider all the other options available to them. This might be dialling NHS111 for help, where staff can provide support and advice over the phone and refer patients to out-of-hours services where appropriate.

When to call 999:
 If you think a patient is suffering from one of the following you must dial 999 for an ambulance:
• Anyone who isn’t breathing or is in cardiac arrest
• Chest pain for more than 15 minutes (which may be indicative of a heart attack heart attack)
• sudden unexplained shortness of breath
• heavy bleeding
• unconsciousness (even if the patient has regained consciousness)
• traumatic back/spinal/neck pain (for example injuries from falls or other accidents, causing severe pain or possible fractures)

 You should also call for an ambulance if: 
• you think the patient's illness or injury is life-threatening
• moving the patient/s without skilled people could cause further injury

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