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Issue:- 12 August 2010


5 NHS Ambulance trusts in England did not meet performance targets in 2009/10 while 8 in England and Wales did so new analysis by GMB ambulance workers union shows

GMB has reacted to reports Professor Matthew Cooke is going to propose that the Tory/Liberal coalition Government should change ambulance response targets which have been credited with saving the lives of 2,000 heart attack patient each year since their introduction in 2001.

There are concerns that these changes are the thin end of the wedge which could lead to a deterioration of the service if the proposals for NHS reorganization in England, set out in a White Paper by the Tory Liberal Government are also implemented. The White Paper proposals will result in GPs being put in charge of budgets and could lead to NHS Ambulance Trusts being starved of the resources they need to meet performance targets to deliver a decent service to patients.

These concerns arise as GMB, the ambulance workers union, publish a new analysis which shows that 5 NHS Ambulance Trusts in England and Wales did not meet performance targets while 8 in England and Wales did so. The figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are not yet available.

The performance target is that 75% of Category A calls should be responded to within 8 minutes. Those not meeting the target were South Central with the percentage achieved being 74.8%, East Midlands 73.7%, North West 73.0%, West Midlands 72.5% and Yorkshire 70.8%. Those meeting the target were South Western 78.3%, Isle of Wight 77.2% South East Coast 76.3% ,East of England 75.7%, London 75.5%, North East 75.4% and Great Western 75.0%. In Wales the performance target is 65% within 8 minutes and the rolling 13 months figures are set out below.

Ambulance Services England - 2009 to 10

Category A calls with a response within 8 minutes Ambulance service Target 75%
England 74.3%
South Western 78.3%
Isle of Wight 77.2%
South East Coast 76.3%
East of England 75.7%
London 75.5%
North East 75.4%
Great Western 75.0%
South Central 74.8%
East Midlands 73.7%
North West 73.0%
West Midlands 72.5%
Yorkshire 70.8%

Ambulance services in Wales - 2009 to 10

Percentage of Category A calls resulting in an emergency response arriving within 8 minutes (13 month trend) Target 65%
April 2009 65.5%
May 2009 66.5%
June 2009 66.7%
July 2009 63.9%
August 2009 64.6%
September 2009 67.1%
October 2009 66.4%
November 2009 65.8%
December 2009 59.4%
January 2010 58.5%
February 2010 65.3%
March 2010 69.2%
April 2010 70.5%

Source:- Welsh Assembly Government

Justin Bowden, GMB National Coordinator for GMB members working in the Ambulance Service said:- “GMB members who work in the service have problems with the targets but they would be very worried with any attempts at wholesale removal of the targets. When members are called out what they often find at the scene differs greatly from what was reported to ambulance controllers. Before the current targets are dismantled there needs to be a consensus as to what the elements should be in a clinically driven system that is practical in what is a life and death service. We all need to remember that the 8 minute target has been credited with saving the lives of almost 20,000 heart attack victims since it was introduced in 2001.  These threatened changes in response time targets come on top of the total gamble contained in the proposals in the White Paper to turn on its head the management of the NHS in England. Meddling politicians need to realise the ambulance service is about saving lives.  The only way that the annual 13 million emergency calls and urgent patients' journeys can be responded to in time by ambulance staff and paramedics so as to deliver a proper service to patients, is with proper planning and with enough resources that are well managed and efficiently deployed.  With the greatest respect to GP practices they neither have the time nor the expertise to replace the NHS Ambulance management structures that have been built up over time. Unless of course the real agenda is to dismantle the NHS ambulance service and replace it with private providers.”


UNISON, the UK's largest public service union, is preparing to take urgent legal action to protect the NHS from being torn apart. The union says that NHS Chief Executive, Sir David Nicholson, is pressing ahead with plans that have neither Parliamentary approval nor legal backing.

The move centres around the status of the Government's latest NHS White Paper that proposes sweeping changes. Sir David Nicholson is accused by the union of pre-empting the result of the consultation and subsequent Parliamentary process by writing to Strategic Health Authorities, Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and other providers with a series of "actions that we need to start now."

The letter states that under the present law it is simply unlawful to propose a series of far reaching, top-down changes to the NHS without giving the public, patients and interested parties, including UNISON, a proper opportunity to have their say about the proposals.

The union’s letter warns that unless the union gets a satisfactory response, urgent Judicial Review proceedings are on the cards.

Karen Jennings, UNISON Head of Health, said:- “The Government’s White Paper will change forever the NHS as we know it. These sweeping changes were not part of any party manifesto and it is outrageous that these changes are being brought in without consulting the public, patients, staff and unions.  The NHS Constitution enshrined in law the right to consultation and yet, in writing to NHS managers, Sir David is working on the premise that the consultation is only about the best way to achieve pre-determined outcomes – this makes it nothing more than a paper exercise and a sham.  We have asked for a response within 7 days and if we are not happy with the reply we are reserving the right to issue urgent Judicial Review proceedings.  Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS”

AXA calls upon residents to nominate best neighbourhood, street or local group

THE final call for AXA Home Insurance’s nationwide search to find the UK’s best neighbourhood or local group closes at the end of this month (31 August 2010).

The AXA Community Challenge competition is calling on residents or community groups in Lancashire who haven’t yet entered to stand up, be proud and highlight the strong, supportive community within which they live. The clock is ticking in villages, towns, and cities to be recognised for their achievement and more importantly turn a future local project into a reality.

With the support of Neighbourhood Watch, AXA’s Community Challenge competition hopes to find the best community in Britain, with regional winners and an overall national champion announced in October 2010. To recognise such achievements, each regional winner will receive an award plaque for their community and the nationally crowned Number One British Community will receive both monetary and man power support from AXA to help make their community dream a reality.

Communities can enter the competition by downloading a PDF form from:- and return by emailing to:- or posting to:- AXA Community Challenge, PO Box 64189, London WC1A 9EJ by the closing date on 31 August 2010. Submitting photos to support applications is encouraged.
(All entrants are automatically, put forward for the chance to win a top digital camera.)

Communities will be evaluated based on criteria such as the most neighbourly, the safest, or the cleanest. All entries, which are supported by a photo showcasing the community’s success, will be automatically entered in to a competition. The photo that captures the best image of its community in each region will be awarded a state of the art digital camera.

The best community in each UK region and an overall winner will be chosen by a panel and announced in early October. More information on AXA’s Community Challenge can be found at:-

Amazing Birds of Prey come to Blue Planet Aquarium

COME face to face with a selection of eagles, owls and other birds of prey over the coming weeks, as Blue Planet Aquarium plays host to the North West's leading falconry centre as part of a special programme of summer activities.

Cheshire Falconry will be bringing Arran, a sea eagle and Britain’s largest bird of prey, as well as the largest owl species in the world and a monkey-eating martial eagle.

There will be daily static displays plus interactive flying demonstrations open to all visitors.

Each of the birds of prey visiting the Blue Planet Aquarium this summer has evolved unique adaptations that make them highly efficient and extremely dangerous to their prey.  As well as being incredibly beautiful creatures the birds of prey are also apex hunters who have evolved into the perfect predators – just like our sharks.

All this takes place from 10 August to 12 August 2010 and also over 21 August to 22 August 2010 at the Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port.

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