HC Deb 10 January 1995 vol 252 cc127-8W
Mr. Harry Greenway

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to receive the report of the review of the London ambulance service carried out by Mr. William Wells; and if she will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

I have today received this report, copies of which are available in the Library. I am grateful to Mr. Wells and his colleagues for undertaking this review and for producing speedily such a thorough report.

The review, which looked at the management, working practices and performance of the London Ambulance Service, was established following the unacceptable delays in providing an ambulance for Nasima Begum on the night of 19 June. The report sets out clearly both the progress which the LAS has made since the report of the independent inquiry in February 1993 and the substantial agenda of further work which is needed to improve its performance to the standard achieved by other ambulance services.

I welcome the report's analysis and the key recommendations arising from it. Most of these are for the LAS and the South Thames regional health authority to implement and I look to it to do this vigorously to the challenging timetable set out in the report. Achieving these changes will require all staff in the LAS and the LAS management, to work together. I have asked Mr. Wells, as chairman of the South Thames RHA, to report regularly on progress to Ministers in addition to producing the quarterly public reports proposed in the report.

The report recommends that the LAS should seek trust status and that it should remain as a single unit for providing emergency ambulance services for London. I welcome the conclusion about trust status for the LAS. This would, in principle, clarify and strengthen management and accountability for the LAS and I agree that preparatory work should begin now. I also agree that the LAS should remain as a single unit but with the very important proviso that this can be justified only if the LAS improves its performance to the standards achieved by other services.

Finally, the report recommends that there should be a review of national standards for ambulance response times. My Department has already set action in hand for such a review this year and will take into account the points made in the review report.

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