Ambulance fears taken to the top

Concerns over response times have been taken to the top of the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith and Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Julie Porksen met with NEAS Chief Executive Yvonne Ormston to discuss several cases where it has taken a significant time for an ambulance to arrive and to seek more details on response times.

Ms Pörksen said: “At present, the response time is calculated from the time of the call to the arrival of help on scene and in many cases this is the Community First Responder, not the paramedic crew. Community First Responders do amazing work and they save lives, but they are not trained or equipped to deal with every sort of emergency.

“It is a concern to hear that there are over 100 vacancies for paramedics with NEAS and that it is proving difficult to fill these posts. I would urge people looking at career options to investigate whether being a paramedic could be a possible role, although it does involve a significant amount of training.”

Sir Alan added: “The difficulties facing the ambulance service in our area are not about money, but about recruitment and retention of staff, and there are plans in place to address staff shortages. I remain concerned that it will take time to fill these vacancies.”