A Letter from Nantwich update

Various updates                      Marching to protest | County committee raps NWAS

One of the town's First Responder vehicles outside the fire station

MP demands meeting

AUGUST 13, 2008

CREWE and Nantwich MP, Edward Timpson, has demanded a meeting with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) who he says has gone back on its word about the use of the blue light by First Responders - according to the Nantwich Chronicle of August 13.

   Following the protest march through town in July 11, Mr Timpson and Nantwich Town Councillors Bill McGinnis and Arthur Moran met representatives of NWAS. Participants in that meeting were greeted by up to 50 protestors carrying placards (Nantwich Chronicle, July 23).     

   NWAS representatives agreed to think again about banning the use of the blue light. Mr Timpson was reported as saying "I would be the first to congratulate them (NWAS) on listening to the local communuity" (if the use of the lights was restored).

   However, NWAS wanted the first responders to be co-responders before they reconsidered the decision. (Co-responders are professional people such as fire fighters - which Nantwich's responders are - while First Responders are members of the community.) And a week later (Nantwich Chronicle, July 30), Mr Timpson was accusing NWAS of going back on their word  because the co-responders condition was not part of the agreement reached at the meeting, he said.

   On August 13, Mr Timpson was calling for a meeting after NWAS said it couldn't meet a deadline of August 4 agreed at the July meeting "due to holiday commitments" which had delayed a meeting of the Task and Finish scrutiny panel which had been set up.


l THE NWAS's take on the report (again quoted in The Nantwich Chronicle) was: "The panel, in principle, has accepted the need to make the changes we have proposed but has raised some concerns that we need to evaluate". That came from Deputy Chief Executive Bob Williams. A full trust board meeting will now consider the report.

   The NWAS, which previously acknowledged that communications on the first responder issue could have been handled more sensitively, have established a Community First Responder Forum.


lQUOTED in The Nantwich Chronicle (November 5), Crewe and Nantwich MP, Edward Timpson, said: "This report (from the Scrutiny Committee) bears out all my and local residents' concerns about NWAS - and more.

   "It recognises the damage the ambulance service's lack of sensitivity and professionalism has done to its reputation in Nantwich around the specific issue of first responders."

Villagers join protest

JUNE 26, 2008

PARISH Councillors and villagers in Audlem are mounting pressure on the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), the Nantwich Guardian reports (June 26).

   Letters have been sent to NWAS by Councillor Mike Hill calling for a delay in the changes of the service. He told John Burnside, NWAS Chief Executive: "We believe, given the extremely poor ambulance response times in this area, there should be no reduction in the First Responder service and training until your ambulances are hitting your own targets of eight minutes in 95% of emergencies and 19 minutes in 95% of amber cases."

   The Guardian reports that the changes have not yet been officially brought into effect but will mean a reduction in training which will prevent First Responders in Cheshire attending certain calls and administering certain drugs. 

Widow's plea

JUNE 18, 2008

RACHAEL Broadhurst, widow of Steve Broadhurst, the 43-year-old milkman who died after he collapsed in his milk float, has vowed to fight NWAS plans to downgrade the First Responders' service (as reported in the Nantwich Chronicle, June 18).

   She said her husband was "denied a chance of survival" because NWAS didn't call the First Responders and she demanded answers from them.

   Mrs Broadhurst is quoted as saying: "When you've got somebody who's critical, they've collapsed, no matter why, the First Responders should be called. That's their purpose. I think the circumstances are irrelevant."

   After offering their sincere condolences to Rachael and her family, and repeating that First Responders were not called to road collisions on the grounds of clinical and personal safety, an NWAS spokeswoman said: "They are unable to warn other highway users of their presence when responding to an emergency call or be afforded the required level of personal safety a flashing blue light provides." (Steve's collapse was initially reported as a road collision even though no other vehicle was involved. His float collided with a garden gate across a road junction.)

   The spokeswoman omitted to say that the First Responders used to use a blue light until NWAS stopped them from doing so.     

New MP backs campaign

JUNE 11, 2008

EDWARD Timpson, the newly-elected Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwich has promised to take the First Responder issue to Downing Street, the Nantwich Chronicle reported on June 11.

   The newspaper also reported that a petition against changes to the First Responders duties had been signed by 8,000 people.

Council anger after First Responders not called

MAY 25, 2008

A NANTWICH milkman has died after collapsing in his vehicle. The First Responders were not called to help because, I understand, it was thought to have been a road traffic collision (RTC) to which First Responders are not called. The milk float collided with gates opposite a road junction.

   Councillor Bill McGinnis told me: "Following the meeting at the Town Council offices, the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has written stating that they will have a meeting with Cheshire County Council's Scrutiny Committee to discuss their plans to change the way the Community First Responders (CFRs) operate. In the meantime, they would remove the use of blue lights and siren but would not implement the rest of the package.

   "That, at least, is what their Chief Executive indicated in his latest letter to the Town Council. Unfortunately, this undertaking was broken almost immediately as on Saturday, May 17, there was an incident at the junction of Queen’s Drive and Welsh Row where a man suffered a cardiac arrest whilst driving his milk float.

   "The ambulance was summoned from some distance away but the CFR team was not called out. It appears that they have implemented the halt on CFRs attending RTCs and the consequence was that there was no oxygen available quickly in this case. First aid from a passer-by and the police was all that could be given until the ambulance eventually arrived. The first responders were some 800 yards away and within a five-minute range.

   "Very sadly, the man has since died.

   "Of course, we laymen cannot say whether the CFRs would have made a life-saving difference, but surely it would have given this man the best possible help within our powers if the local team had been called out – in accordance with the undertaking in the letter to the Town Council.

   "Naturally, we at the Town Council are furious at the complete failure of the service to keep their word and we are deeply saddened at the circumstances of this case. We have written to the Chief Executive of the NWAS demanding an explanation.

   "If there is to be a coroner’s inquest, I will be requesting permission to give evidence in relation to the behaviour of the emergency service."


REPORTING on the incident, The Nantwich Chronicle (May 21) said the ambulance "didn't arrive for 17 minutes because it was miles away." The newspaper reported that First Responder Gavin Palin "was less than a mile away."

  Quoted in The Chronicle, an NWAS spokesman said the call was classified as a road traffic collision and an emergency ambulance was dispatched immediately. "As more information was provided by the caller this was classified as a suspected cardiac arrest," said the spokesman, adding: "Community First Responders are not deployed to road traffic collisions on the grounds of clinical and personal safety."


NANTWICH'S First Responders are firefighters, more than a little used to putting their lives on the line as they tackle blazes. Attending road accidents - road traffic collisions - are part and parcel of their routine work.

   But, of course, probably not all First Responders are in this line of work, and so - as seems to be the case at the moment - all First Responders work in the same way. If one cannot do something, none of them can. 

Help of cardiologist sought

APRIL 30, 2008

AFTER the meeting, the (former) Chairman of the Town Council, Cllr Bill McGinnis, told me: "The consultant pharmacist who came forward at the meeting on Saturday is working up a paper drawn from published studies on the importance of relevant treatment in that vital time prior to hospital admission.

  "Correct and early treatment is so important in influencing the post-admission outcomes. Luckily, he also has a friend who happens to be an eminent figure nationally and he is based in Manchester. As a cardiologist, he could provide some very useful medical input to our case and to that end, our friend is going to ask for his help."

   He added: "On another tack, I have heard from Audlem where training of their new First Responders is due to commence on May 6. They are concerned at the content of their training package and apparently, may join us in resisting the changes."


l Picture of Cllr McGinnis taken from the Nantwich Town Council website. (Nantwich Chronicle picture).

Blue light ban remains

APRIL 30, 2008

"WE'VE got a Rolls-Royce service and we don't want to replace it with a pushbike service" - Cllr McGinnis speaking after a private meeting between the Town Council and the North West Ambulance Service, as reported in The Nantwich Chronicle of April 30.    

   The council called for the immediate reinstatement of the blue light on the Responders' vehicles, but a spokesman told the Chronicle: "The immediate removal of the blue light response facility remains". She added: "The trust remains committed to delivering the community First Responder scheme within appropriate clinical safety and governance requirements." The full story can be found at www.crewechronicle.co.uk

Injunction advice sought

AT the Town Council meeting on the Monday after the meeting, members agreed to look into the possibility of taking out an injunction to stop the downgrading of the service.

   It was said that there were sufficient ground as the North West Ambulance Service hadn't consulted the County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee on the changes. 

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