Councillors to press for inquiry into ambulance response times

Councillors are to press for an inquiry into the county's ambulance response times, amid concerns over the harmful impact on residents.

Shropshire Council will be asked to back the motion which would pave the way for the inquiry
Shropshire Council will be asked to back the motion which would pave the way for the inquiry

A group of Shropshire Councillors will back a motion at next week's meeting of Shropshire Council which could pave the way for an inquiry into what one has called the "shocking" performance of the county's ambulance service.

It comes amid concern about the deterioration in response times across Shropshire in recent months – with repeated incidents where patients have been left facing significant waits for help – on one occasion up to 24-hours.

West Midlands Ambulance Service itself has revealed the extent of the issues, with crews and patients spending 34,140 hours waiting outside hospitals in April – compared to just 5,732 last year.

It has spoken of the difficulties in getting patients into busy hospitals in Telford and Shrewsbury, while the hospitals have also outlined the problems in discharging health patients to places in community care.

There is particular concern at the level of performance when compared to other areas across the country.

In the week up to April 3, 72 per cent of ambulances arriving at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital experienced handover delays of 30 minutes or more – compared to just 27 per cent nationally.

Shropshire Council Liberal Democrat Tracy Huffer, an NHS nurse, is asking the council to set up a working group to outline how an inquiry would operate.

Her motion, backed by party colleagues Councillors Heather Kidd, Andy Boddington and Richard Huffer, states: "An inquiry would be a powerful statement from Shropshire Council that is not a passive player when the health service in our country is struggling and too often failing to deliver services that we need."

The motion will be considered at Shropshire Council on Thursday.

Telford & Wrekin Council leader Shaun Davies said his council was ready to work with the Shropshire authority to secure improvements.

He said: "Like many residents I share the concern over the lack of ambulance cover and response times, together with the ongoing issues with GP access and waiting times at A&E.

"There are a number of ways in which Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire Councils should work together, including working with local health bosses to put forward any evidence based solutions to government for further funding and reforms, and we stand ready to work with Shropshire Council to do that."

A spokesman for West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "We welcome any inquiry into how the health service in Shropshire could be improved.

"There is no question that each part of the NHS and the council need to work together to improve the flow of patients through health and social care."

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