Ambulance boss ‘confident’ of able London response to major incident

One person was treated for minor injuries after the crash between a bus and a car outside Upton Park

One person was treated for minor injuries after the crash between a bus and a car outside Upton Park station - Credit: Archant

A London ambulance chief has downplayed fears that the service isn’t ready for a major terrorist attack following a scathing report by health inspectors yesterday.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) report revealed a culture of “bullying and harassment” in the London Ambulance Service (LAS), with the trust that looks after it labelled “inadequate” after a run of poor response times since March.

The report also revealed that some ambulance staff claimed to have not been trained in major incident procedures since London 2012 while others said they were unaware of them.

Kevin Brown, deputy director of operations for LAS, said despite the report’s recommendation that the service be put into special measures it could still cope with a major incident such as the recent terror attack in Paris that killed 130.

He said: “We are confident that we will be able to respond to a major incident. We have reviewed our plans following Paris along with our other emergency services.”

The service has recruited an additional 167 frontline staff since the report’s findings who are already responding to patients in London, according to a spokeswoman for LAS.

A further 200 people are currently in training and under supervision while a recruitment campaign for staff continues.

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The service currently responds to 77 per cent of calls within 10 minutes, below the national target of 75pc of calls within eight minutes. Said Mr Brown: “We accept we are not there but we are making good progress to get there.

“We welcome the concerns of the CQC and we particularly welcome their observations. We were already aware of many of the issues raised and are making improvements.”

Asked why response times were so poor, Mr Brown said simply that demand had increased since March last year. Prior to this date, the trust was considered to be the best-performing in the country.

An LAS spokeswoman confirmed that “life-threatening calls” to the service had gone up by 47pc since 2010, although she was unable to comment on reasons for the increase.

LAS chief executive Dr Fionna Moore said: “While we are pleased that our caring and compassionate staff have been recognised in this report, we are sorry we have fallen short of some of the standards CQC and Londoners expect of us.”