"Watching my friend in extreme pain for a prolonged period of time"

About: Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

(as a friend),

whilst with my friend last week she dislocated her knee. I telephoned an ambulance and unfortunately this resulted in a long wait for a call back and a 90 minute wait watching her in agony sitting in a restricted position as this was a 'Non life threatening emergency'.

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Response from Jacqueline Taylor, Patient Relations Manager, Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Firstly, on behalf of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, I am very sorry for any distress and discomfort experienced by your friend whilst waiting for an ambulance response and I do understand your concerns regarding the ambulance delay.

To identify the priority of every call we receive the call takers in our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) ask a series of questions about the patient’s condition. These questions are common to nearly all UK ambulance services and are based on internationally agreed standards. The information provided by the caller about the patient’s condition is used to determine the priority for response.

The answers to the questions we ask are used to assign a Red or Green code to the call. Red coded calls are for patients with immediately life threatening conditions and we aim to have an ambulance response with the patient within a target response time of 8 minutes. Green coded calls are for patients whose condition is serious but not life threatening and some green calls are referred for further clinical assessment. However the condition of the patient at the time of the call will determine our priority of response and whether it requires further clinical triage.

I would like to assure you that we always try to provide the most appropriate and timely response to every 999 call we receive. Our systems are designed to ensure that we identify patients with life-threatening conditions as our first priority and ensure that they get help in the shortest possible time.

I would like to reassure you that we are committed to providing the best possible service we can for all the people who call 999. We always aim to respond to all 999 calls as soon as possible, but sometimes the number of patients requiring immediate ambulance attention in one area is greater than the number of ambulance crews we have available.

Rising demand on all health care resources continues which requires changes to deliver improvements in urgent and emergency care. Yorkshire Ambulance Service is working with other health care organisations in the region to identify ways in which the needs of our population in Yorkshire and the Humber can be better served.

We currently have a performance improvement plan which aims to deliver improvements in our response times as we have been unable to meet overall targets at times. These measures include a focus on recruiting to current paramedic vacancies; introduction of dedicated ambulances and staff for urgent calls not requiring an emergency ambulance; and having back up resources available to be called on there and then, should a higher than predicted number of calls be received.

I do hope your friend is recovering well from their injury.

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