Parish hits out at plans for ambulance changes

PARISH councillors have opposed changes to the ambulance service, with one claiming that health provision is ‘weighted against the outlying areas’ of the county.

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) wants to withdraw the daytime 12-hour shift ambulance from Berwick, leaving the town and surrounding district with a single 24-hour cover ambulance.

The dual-crewed emergency ambulance in Belford would remain, as would the rapid response vehicle paramedic service in Wooler, with support provided by two new urgent care vehicles based in Alnwick.

But at a meeting of Wooler Parish Council, members strongly objected to leaving Berwick with one ambulance, pointing out that the area to be covered by the two ambulances in Berwick and Belford is vast.

Their voices are added to politicians, councillors and residents from the north of the county who slammed the proposals at a volatile public meeting in Berwick earlier this month.

Chairman of the parish council, Coun Alfreda Hindmarsh said: “The whole health agenda is weighted against the outlying areas at the moment, in the north and in the west, because they have problems too.”

“If there’s only one ambulance and it’s called out, then what happens?

“It’s very important that everyone from this area shouts from the same hymn sheet.”

County and parish Coun Anthony Murray said: “The experts at that meeting did not understand the geography up here.”

And following a suggestion from Coun Robert Tait that the parish council formally objects to the plans, Coun Murray added: “What they did say is that we have a good paramedic service and I agree, but there’s quite a lot of situations where the paramedics can’t do it.

“It’s desperately short-sighted. I agree with Robert, we should register our strong objections.”

The parish council agreed to send objection letters to both NEAS and Northumberland County Council’s chief executive Steve Stewart.

l More Wooler Parish Council news, P9.