It was good to speak to Philip Astle and David Astley from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) today. SECAmb responds to 999 and 111 calls across Surrey and the south east, and we have two of their ambulance stations locally, in Esher and Walton.
Like all parts of the NHS, SECAmb has experienced significant pressures during the Coronavirus pandemic, receiving very large volumes of calls. The service is, however, meeting targets for responding to urgent cases, and answering the average 999 call within one second.
We also discussed the impact that Coronavirus has had on SECAmb staff. Like many organisations, SECAmb has experienced difficulties with staff being off sick or in self-isolation. The situation has been improving recently, with the current proportion of staff off sick or self-isolating (1.6%) significantly lower than at the height of the pandemic (14%). The service also has good supplies of PPE to ensure that staff are properly protected when on call.
Looking ahead, it was good to hear that SECAmb has recently been able to focus more on non-Coronavirus cases, and is actively planning for the extra pressures that come with winter. Staff are also planning for any challenges related to the end of the transition period with the EU at the end of the year.
I am grateful to Philip and David for the useful briefing, and pay tribute to the dedicated work of SECAmb’s paramedics and ambulance drivers during the pandemic.