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Ambulance service still quick to emergencies, despite challenges

The North East Ambulance Service is reassuring the public over its response times.
The North East Ambulance Service is reassuring the public over its response times.

The North East Ambulance Service has reassured the public its drivers are dealing with the most urgent emergencies quickly, despite a report showing services deteriorating.

A report to the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group held at County Hall revealed: ‘Month on month, the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) response times have deteriorated in Northumberland.

‘The CCG is currently working across the local health economy on initiatives to improve response times, including the creation of alternatives to transporting patients to a hospital.

‘The ambulance service has also been involved in recruiting to vacant posts and reducing sickness absence levels.’

But Lynne Hodgson, director of finance and resources for North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s important that people do not get the wrong impression and risk losing confidence in the service.

“The most important target is what is called the C1 Mean, where the ambulance is set the target of reaching the most serious of all cases in seven minutes.

“Since the new targets were introduced in October last year we have regularly hit the seven-minute target set and on the occasions we haven’t, it has been eight minutes.

“This is actually something we’re very proud of, especially given the rural nature of Northumberland and given the fact that we have had a long and difficult winter which often made driving conditions difficult.

“There are areas we are looking to improve on for the recently-introduced targets for all types of call-outs.

“But I would just want to stress to the public that when it comes to emergencies, the North East Ambulance Service continues to provide a reliable and rapid service to the public.”

The CCG official report added: ‘In 2017/18 our major work plan focused on the A&E four hour wait target and ambulance response time performance.’

Graeme Anderson, Local Democracy Reporting Service