STROKE victims are having to wait more than an hour to be seen by paramedics in some cases in the north west.

The response times were highlighted at a recent council meeting, where one member labelled the result as 'worrying' for residents in Cheshire West and Chester.

Yesterday evening (January 18), North West Ambulance Service’s (NWAS) 2019/20 quality accounts were presented at a meeting of CWAC’s health scrutiny committee.

Cllr Eveleigh Moore Dutton, representing Tarporley, said it was ‘worrying’ that ‘the response time to strokes… was roughly 90 minutes’.

NHS England currently classifies strokes as a ‘category 2’ incident in its ambulance response programme, which was introduced in 2017.

NWAS Senior Manager Gene Quinn replied: “Being up in 90 minutes gives an indication of the number of incidents in that category. There is a piece of work ongoing over the last 12 months to increase the number of double crewed ambulances.

“In relation to what we’re doing to make sure our resources get to those life threatening conditions, those time-critical conditions within category 2, we've put together a clinical coordinating desk which operates within our emergency control centres.

“They have an advanced clinician on that desk whose job is to review the category 2, category 3, and category 4 waiting incidents to appraise the call so they can monitor and further clinically evaluate that call, so they can re-triage.”

Winsford Guardian: Gene Quinn. Image: North West Ambulance Service on TwitterGene Quinn. Image: North West Ambulance Service on Twitter

Data from the service indicated that, during the second half of 2019/20, paramedics took up to 63 minutes to reach nine in ten category 2 incidents — against a target of 40 minutes.

Mr Quinn also outlined that often, first-responder vehicles have to wait until a ‘conveying vehicle’ arrives at the scene of a stroke, reducing NWAS’ resources to deal with other incidents.

He added: “So you’ve got a clinician who can pick up that call and look at it in the whole scheme of other calls and re-prioritise for the next immediate response required.

“We recognise as an organisation that activity has increased beyond what our current commissioned vehicles are.”

Overall, the Care Quality Commission’s latest inspection into NWAS gave the service a ‘good rating’ in June 2020.