In This Post, I Prove Even Ambulance Performance Data Can Be Interesting

I’m currently on placement in Grimsby, meaning I get to say in the the lovely hospital accomodation. Rave reviews on TripAdvisor leave such glowing reviews as:

‘They’re are no rats’

‘Even on the warmest day in 6 years, the heating was on full blast – such good value!’

‘I appreciate the jail-like feel they’ve gone for. This architectural metaphor really helps show how patients can feel trapped by the system and the illness within which they find themselves.’

In my case, the bleak breezeblock walls have led me to an appreciation of why right wing newspapers feel quite so outraged about everything all the time. Hence me reading an article on Telegraph.co.uk, entitled ‘NHS 111 Investigation: How Ambulances Have Performed Over A Three-Year Period’. After such a succint headline, I was absolutely riveted. How could I not read on after a headline that easily could have been from a first-year undergraduate essay?

All joking aside, I did read on and the article was actually quite informative. The graph the Telegraph gives us shows ambulance data from 2012/13, 13/14, 14/15 and 15/16. When is the cut-off between one year and the next? Who knows! Or are the categories an average of the two years given? Who cares!

At least they tell us the data is from the ambulance trusts in England. Do they link to the raw data themselves? Of course they don’t. I mean, who’d want to read that?

Enough sarcastic bashing of the Telegraph, the data actually paints a rather bleak picture of the state of England’s ambulances.

NB: I’ve ignored data from 15/16 as it is incomplete. Though the picture isn’t much prettier including it.

  • Trusts that answered less life-threatening calls on time in 2014/15 than 12/13: 7  – East, London, North East, North West, South Central, West Midlands, Yorkshire
  • Trusts that were below the ‘75% in 8 minutes or less’ response target in 12/13: 5 – East Midlands, East, North West, South Western, Yorkshire
  • Trusts below target last year: 7 – East Midlands, East , London, North East, North West, South Central, Yorkshire
  • Worst trend in peformance: London – response rates have dropped from 3rd place with 77.7% ‘missed’ responses to propping up the table with 67.2%, a drop of 10.5%
  • Best trend in performance: South Western – increased by 2.2% from 73.0% to 75.2%, the only trust to move from below target to above target
  • Trusts that have never net the 75% target: 2 – East Midlands and East of England.

In other words, the average ambulance trust in England is worse perfiorming than it was in 2012/13, and the average ambulance trust does not answer life-threatening calls as quickly as it should do. There are a few exceptions –  East Midlands, Isle of Wight and South Western have all improved, though East Midlands is still below target.

Overall, one can hardly call the last three years of the Coalition’s health policy a resounding success when it comes to ambulances. Maybe the drivers are nicer, suspensions smoother and everything is a whole lot more ‘efficient’ (read as ‘cheaper and underfunded’), but I think I’d trade them all in for moving ill-people quickly to hospitals. You know, the whole point of the ambulance service.