Meeting at the LAS’ Headquarters in Waterloo on Wednesday 25th February, Ms Ryan raised the worrying deterioration in ambulance response times for Category A (immediately life threatening) calls in Enfield. In December 2014 only 40% of ambulances in Enfield arrived to assist patients in dire need within the LAS’ eight minute target time - this means the borough is one of the worst performing in London. Dr. Moore acknowledged the issues with Category A performance, but said that the response times for January 2015 had improved –these figures are not yet publicly available.
Dr. Moore stated that nearly all the current problems with the LAS were driven by increased patient demand, however Ms Ryan raised concern regarding the large number of staff vacancies and the impact this was having on the service. Discussing the LAS ambulance crew shift she joined in October 2014, Ms Ryan spoke about the relentless nature of the working environment for paramedics and technicians and said there was no surprise there was a high level of staff vacancies. Dr. Moore and Mr Gates confirmed that this was an issue they were focussing on and said that the vacancy rate across London had reduced in recent months.
Ms Ryan also mentioned the condition of the ambulances currently servicing Enfield, citing the poor state of the ambulance she travelled in in October whose heating did not work and whose roof was leaking. Patients were complaining of feeling cold, as a result. Dr. Moore said that all LAS ambulances older than seven years old would be replaced by 2018. However no extra ambulances are scheduled to be brought into operation at the Chase Farm ambulance station, but whilst no date was given, Dr. Moore said they had plans to introduce two more ambulances in Edmonton, as a response to increased demand in the east of the borough. Joan Ryan will monitor this issue closely, given the need for increased ambulance provision in Enfield.
Joan Ryan, Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Enfield North, said:
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Moore and Mr Gates to discuss the current state of the LAS in Enfield and throughout London.
The LAS is under great pressure and frontline staff are performing admirably under very difficult circumstances. There was a clear recognition by both the interim Chief Executive and the Deputy Director of Operations that there were serious matters to address regarding increased demand, staff shortages and staff morale.
I left the meeting with the belief that Ms Moore and Mr Gates were doing their best to tackle the many issues that the ambulance service faces in Enfield and are committed to improving the LAS’ performance across London. However, it seems to me that, like the rest of the NHS, the LAS has been under-resourced and tipped into crisis by the bad decisions made by the current Tory-led Government.”