PERFORMANCE: Emergency response times fell behind target for Berkshire East due to technical problems, low staff morale and an unexplained growth in demand for services.

The area recorded 73.6 per cent of category A emergencies were responded to within eight minutes, against a target of 75 per cent.

Board papers said: “The reasons for this drop in performance are threefold. Firstly, overall South Central Ambulance Service activity is 8 per cent up in May compared to the same month last year, Berkshire is the main area of growth. The reasons for this growth are as yet unexplained.

“Secondly, the Emergency Operations Centre based in Wokingham is being transferred to Banbury. The immediate effect of this move has been a reduction of staff morale/performance. In the medium term the move is expected to affect performance due to a loss of local knowledge as a number staff members will not be relocating.

“Thirdly, there was a technology problem whereby phone calls were subject to white noise so the ambulance staff couldn’t hear the callers. This went on for approx. 10 days (this is now subject to a serious incident requiring investigation but there is no evidence that it affected the wellbeing of patients).

“Abandoned calls hit 6.7per cent and the average answering time was 91 seconds, both being red on the RAG ratings.

“SCAS have not yet provided an action plan to address poor performance. Once the contract is signed (week beginning 18 June) a number of contract queries will follow to start to address this drop in performance.”