Horsham gets a ‘poor deal’ with ambulance cover

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As plans take shape to dispatch fewer ambulances across Horsham at night, a social care specialist says Horsham has been given a ‘poor deal’.

A recent review of the deployment of resources by South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) has lead to the decision to dispatch just one ambulance in Horsham overnight, compared to two previously.

John Gooderham, member of the West Sussex Link stewardship group - the voice of social care issues in the county - said the Link had not discussed the issue but he was keen to provide a personal opinion.

“I have to say that in this regard, as in so many other NHS issues, it always seems to me that Horsham gets a poor deal compared with other towns of the same size.

“50,000 people live in Horsham and in the district there are 130,000 people.

“I recognise it is up to them [SECAmb] to deploy their resources as best they can but Horsham is a big town.”

Although ambulances can be brought in from other areas near Horsham Mr Gooderham remains unconvinced that will be enough in situations where time is of the essence.

“What happens if someone has a stroke in the middle of the night?” questioned Mr Gooderham.

“In the first phase of a stroke people have to be taken to Redhill or Guildford or Brighton.

“If the ambulance has got to come from Crawley you have lost an extra 15 or 20 minutes.

“Some ambulance are effectively labelled ‘FAST’ and they make a great deal of time being of the essence in stroke situations but they don’t seem to have thought that through completely.

“I would hope they [SECAmb] would think very carefully about how many vehicles they need to service the town of Horsham and the rest of the district.

“Just saying we have vehicles in Crawley and whatever doesn’t strike me as satisfactory.”

A SECAmb spokesperson said: “With the changes there will be one fewer ambulance starting a full overnight shift from Horsham every day of the week but there will be the same number up until midnight.

“SECAmb must ensure that its vehicles and clinicians are best placed to meet patient demand. To do this we continually monitor the level of resource across our region of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

“To meet patient demand we will have more ambulances and response cars on during peak times of the day, days of the week and times of the year.

“Vehicles across the Crawley dispatch area work together to respond to emergencies across the region.

“Because of this, anyone requiring an ambulance in Horsham will not necessarily receive one which has started its shift in Horsham.

“We are also working with colleagues throughout the local health system to ensure that patients are given the right care in the right place. By increasing the services available, more patients can be treated in the own homes.

“The proposed changes for Horsham, will see one ambulance begin its overnight shift in Horsham on every day of the week.

“Another ambulance will start its shift from Horsham and respond across the area until midnight on every day of the week apart from Sunday when this shift finishes at 11pm.

“Overnight on Fridays and Saturdays two ambulances will respond to emergencies in the area throughout the night.”