HEALTH chiefs have said they will be ‘challenging’ the North West Ambulance Service over emergency response times.

Last month the Warrington Guardian reported the service was back on track after failing to meet targets for the most life-threatening 999 calls.

But at the latest NHS Warrington Trust board meeting, Dr Sarah Baker, director of commissioning, said response times still need to improve as well as turnaround times at the hospital to avoid ambulances ‘stacking up’.

Speaking at the meeting last week, she said: “The ambulance service has been an issue. Despite adding two new vehicles to the fleet in this area, response times still need to improve.

“They are not hitting the 20 minute target and ambulances stack up.

“We will be challenging them if everyone needs picking up and we will be trying to avoid stacking.”

In September NHS Warrington reported the response to category A calls, the most life-threatening, within eight minutes were under the target of 75 per cent at 68.5 per cent, 4.9 per cent lower than in August.

Category B 19 minute responses were also under target at 82.5 per cent against a target of 95 per cent.

The category B target was not achieved by any Primary Care Trust in Cheshire and Merseyside in September this year.

Speaking last month, Derek Cartwright, the director of emergency services said: “So far this year the trust has seen a positive increase in performance despite more calls to 999 than ever before.

“Ambulances are reaching more people within the eight-minute time frame than last year.

“The trust is committed to delivering the right care at the right time in the right place. It has taken a number of steps this year to improve performance.

“This has included the increased monitoring of turnaround times at hospitals and an increase in the number of frontline staff,” added Mr Cartwright.