SOUTH Western Ambulance Service has failed to meet response times for the most urgent calls in Wiltshire for the ninth consecutive month.

Health regulator Monitor confirmed this week it has some concerns about response times and, while it had not launched an investigation, it is talking to South Western about the issue.

For Red 1 calls – the most critical calls such as cardiac arrests which require a response within eight minutes 75 per cent of the time – South Western achieved 57.25 per cent in Wiltshire during December. Its performance from last April to December in Wiltshire was 58 per cent – the worst performance in the South Western patch.

South Western’s response rate in Swindon for Red 1 calls was 89.66 per cent in December, and from April to December 88.2 per cent – the best performance in the patch.

Across the entire South Western area, the service’s response rate for Red 1 calls from April to December was 71.31 per cent.

South Western took over operating in Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire last February when it merged with Great Western Ambulance Service.

Simon Truelove, chief financial officer at Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group said at a governing body meeting in Devizes on Tuesday that the group wanted to have equality of ambulance services in all areas.

He said: “We have started to see a small upward trajectory in delivery, but it’s not fast enough.”

Mr Truelove said South Western had experienced significant increases in activity across the patch, some of which was a result of calls to 111, the non-emergency telephone line.

He also said there were handover delays being experienced by South Western at Great Western Hospital, while delays at the Royal United Hospital, Bath, and Salisbury District Hospital were minimal.

A spokesman for South Western Ambulance Service said: “The Trust acknowledges the importance of a timely response in an emergency situation and is constantly striving to improve response performance.

“We would like to reassure the communities of Wiltshire that while we have not reached the Red 1 response standard in that locality, we are arriving on scene in ten minutes 75 per cent of the time, and the latest figures show that trust-wide we are exceeding the required 75 per cent standard for Red 1 and 2 calls.

“It is important we focus on both the speed of response and the quality of care delivered.

“We have initiatives that will improve response performance, such as community responder schemes using off-duty ambulance staff and other healthcare professionals. The other important national ambulance clinical quality indicator we are measured against is the care delivered and here the trust is consistently one of the top performing services in England.”