Seeking reassurances over Northumberland ambulance service

Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Board chairman Scott Dickinson, who spent a day with paramedics.
Northumberland Health and Wellbeing Board chairman Scott Dickinson, who spent a day with paramedics.

The county’s health and wellbeing chief will meet ambulance bosses this week in an attempt to seek answers around urgent changes he believes are needed to the service in north Northumberland.

Chairman of Northumberland’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Scott Dickinson, will speak to the chairman and CEO of the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) along with a Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group representative and a Northumbria NHS Trust executive director.

It comes on the back of an ambulance crew taking nearly an hour to reach a four-year-old boy who was injured in a crash in Berwick yesterday – at a time when the town’s ambulance cover is already under scrutiny.

Coun Dickinson said: “I have called this meeting with the CEO, chairman, CCG and Northumbria exec. board member to discuss the current issues and seek reassurances about those issues in north Northumberland and provide support. I understand that NEAS, like other organisations, has had significant financial pressures since 2010 and in 2012 changed its operations, removing one 24-hour ambulance. I want to understand more about that decision.“

“I have been out with an ambulance crew in the north observing a shift to experience the job; they work incredibly hard under pressure are hugely dedicated and proud of what they do. It gave me valued knowledge of responding, treatment, handover at hospital and other operational-related areas of the service. I also visited the NEAS call centre to understand the process from call to dispatch.

“I do want reassurance this week and information about what the plan is moving forward, I also want to ensure that the NEAS knows I am deeply concerned but want to support them if we can moving forward and work together.

“What I don’t want to do is shout from the sidelines and not take a pragmatic approach; bringing people and organisations together to talk over the issues and share potential ideas and solutions. In times of financial pressures we must work together to protect and improve services.”