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Ambulance Service investigation after ‘first-response’ vehicle blocked by Low Traffic Neighbourhood

An investigation has been launched by the South Central Ambulance Service after a first-call ambulance, responding to a heart attack victim, was unable to complete their initial route due to a blockade in the road enforced through a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme in Oxford.

Speaking with TaxiPoint, Mark Ainsworth, Director of Operations at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “On 14 March, an ambulance crew were sent to a patient at an address on Littlemore Road, Oxford, following a 999 call received at 12:43. The ambulance arrived at the property at 12:52. Whilst this is a slightly longer response than the national target set for average response times to Category 1 calls (<7 minutes) it did meet the national response target of responding to Category 1 calls in 9 times out of 10 within 15 minutes.

“On route to the address, the ambulance crew initially followed a route that was impassable due to the recently introduced Low Traffic Neighbourhood Scheme in the area.

“In this instance, the delay did not affect the outcome for the patient.

“The Trust is currently conducting an investigation as to whether the reason why the ambulance crew followed this route was down to an error in the Trust’s mapping software, or human error.

“The Trust would like to extends its condolences to the patient’s family and if they have any concerns or questions about our response to their emergency call, to contact our Patient Experience Team on 0300 123 9280.”

Oxfordshire County Council say the LTNs prevent people from outside the area driving through the neighbourhood by the use of “traffic filters”, which can be either planters or bollards.

Three new LTN trials have been introduced this month by the council, which will see traffic filters placed at specific points across Church Cowley, Temple Cowley and Florence Park.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are being introduced across the UK, with London being one of the cities transforming streets to promote and encourage walking and cycling. London‘s LTNs have been incorporated into the Mayor and TfL’s Street Space Scheme.

According to Transport for London (TfL), LTNs help to make streets around London easier to walk and cycle on by stopping cars, vans and other vehicles from using quiet roads as shortcuts.

London’s transport authority also say that LTNs are also helping to deliver the Mayor of London’s plan to make London a “healthier, safer, more inclusive, cleaner and greener city“, with their goal of making 80% of all trips by active or sustainable modes by 2041.

TfL say that each month, they meet with local authorities and London’s emergency services to discuss the Streetspace programme and any issues that it may be causing.

They say this is to give the emergency services “awareness of the schemes“ and help them review response time data to identify issues and adjust schemes if needed.

TfL believe that any increases in traffic caused by the LTNs are unlikely to be permanent, and have said they are paying close attention to changes in traffic levels and bus journey times in and around LTNs and comparing them with areas where LTNs haven’t been introduced.

They say this may result in making changes to help traffic adjust, including changing traffic light timings or adding more signage.


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