AMBULANCE services say they hope to be able to address the continued slow response times to emergency call-outs in the Cotswolds.

A motion is being put before the county council's full council next week by the Liberal Democrats who say they are worried there has been no improvement since they first brought the matter to the council in May 2014.

The Liberal Democrats say latest figures shows the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s continuing failure to meet its 75 per cent target in responding to the most urgent calls within eight minutes.

Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, county councillor for Bourton-on-the-Water who will for a second time be leading the debate said: “Our calls for improving ambulance response times made in the council chamber over 18 months ago appear to have fallen on deaf ears. In September of this year the eight minute target for Red1 incidents (immediately life-threatening conditions) was achieved in only 38.46 per cent of cases in the Cotswolds ."

The ambulance service said it was 'finding it a challenge' to meet response times in rural areas like the Cotswolds while there were improvements in performance in other areas of the South West.

"A The low number of calls and the wide geographical spread of incidents in rural areas means that journey times can exceed the eight minute target. When measured against the national ambulance clinical quality indicator for the care we deliver, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is consistently one of the top performing ambulance services in England, however, we know that people want their ambulance service to provide a timely response alongside excellent clinical care.

"We have a number of initiatives in place that will improve our response performance in rural areas as well as delivering even better care. These include community responder schemes, the installation of public access defibrillators and defibrillators within care homes.

"These initiatives do not change the priority or category of a 999 call they just ensure that a patient suffering a life-threatening emergency can begin to receive the required care in the crucial first few minutes of an emergency while an ambulance is en route.

"There is currently a national shortage of paramedics so the trust is very focussed on recruitment – this has been a struggle in the Gloucestershire area but by early next year we expect to have filled all outstanding vacancies."

The Ambulance service added: SWASFT Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, met with Cotswold MP, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown again recently to discuss the results of extra ambulance trial last year. The trial required additional investment to provide the staff and vehicle but there were no significant improvements to the level of care or response times for patients in that area.

"A further trial of this nature is not planned, however, as discussed with Mr Clifton-Brown, Mr Wenman met with the Gloucestershire Chief Fire Officer to look at closer partnership working between the two emergency services to benefit patients in The Cotswolds and surrounding areas. This partnership with the fire and rescue service will see three new co-responder schemes launch in Northleach, Stow and Moreton."

Conservative Deputy Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, Ray Theodoulou, commented: “There’s been long standing concerns about ambulance response times in Gloucestershire. I know that Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP in particular has been relentless in raising this issue. The county council, via its Health Scrutiny Committee has also raised the issue a number of times, and, although the council has no power to control the ambulance trust, will no doubt keep raising it. I’m sure all councillors will listen closely to this motion and the proposals it makes when it is debated at Full Council.”