THE ambulance service in Wiltshire has improved significantly, according to a Government report.

In an assessment published today by the Healthcare Commission, Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) demonstrates a significant improvement in achieving standards for better health over the last 12 months.

These standards, set and assessed by the Healthcare Commission, evaluate the quality of services across all NHS trusts in England.

Out of the total 39 core standards applicable to the ambulance service, GWAS has achieved 87% of them, an increase of 9% on the previous year. This performance continues to improve with 37 standards meeting the target out of 39 in June.

The Trust is working to ensure that it meets the two remaining standards in appraising and providing statutory training for all its staff. A new human resources computer system is already helping the Trust track progress.

The Healthcare Commission also assesses the performance of ambulance trusts against the new national targets. GWAS has achieved all of these new national targets. This means it is one of the best performers in the areas of emergency response to stroke and ischemic attack, infection control, obesity, and self harm and participation in audits.

Tim Lynch, chief executive said: "I am delighted by the progress we have made. There have been many successes this year for Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS). Our ambitious programme to improve performance has achieved the 75% Category A target and made significant progress against all our other operational performance targets - a testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff. Now we are working hard to deliver our new Call Connect target which starts the clock about 90 seconds earlier and means shorter waits for 999 calls to be answered and patients reached more quickly.

"We have made a significant investment in upgrading our technology. We've installed an interim computer aided dispatch system in the Trust so we can see all the crews and vehicles across the whole patch to make sure we dispatch the closest vehicle irrespective of county lines. We have installed new telephony too so we can answer calls more quickly.

"We have managed our finances extremely well. The Trust has ended the year with a surplus of £1.45m which now means we can pay off the debts inherited from the three former Trusts. This puts GWAS in a strong financial position for the future."