MP calls for more ambulances to cover north of county

Sir Alan Beith MP
Sir Alan Beith MP

At least one more emergency ambulance should be allocated to north Northumberland, according to Sir Alan Beith MP.

In one case, a boy from Norham had to wait more than an hour for an ambulance to travel to him from Amble, despite having suspected meningitis.

Speaking in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Sir Alan raised the issue of ambulance cover, asking about the distance between the new hospital at Cramlington and Berwick.

Health Minister Norman Lamb replied: “The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has traditionally been a good performer, but any deterioration that has been identified needs to be addressed very speedily.

“I urge him to monitor this closely, and if he wants to talk about it further with me, I will be happy to do so.”

Afterwards, Sir Alan said: “It is very difficult to see how adequate response times can be guaranteed unless at least one additional emergency ambulance can be stationed in north Northumberland.”

A statement from the NEAS said: “As the name suggests, the NEAS provides cover for the whole of the North East, and only has a finite number of vehicles. We strategically spread these around the region to maximise our response times to patients.

“The national target for all UK ambulance services is to reach 75 per cent of the most serious emergencies within eight minutes. On Tuesday this week, NEAS reached 86.3 per cent of emergencies in Northumberland within that time limit. On the same day, we reached 86 per cent of non-life threatening calls in 30 minutes or less.”