Ambulance crew takes nearly an hour to reach injured boy in Northumberland

A North East Ambulance Service vehicle.
A North East Ambulance Service vehicle.

An ambulance crew took nearly an hour to reach a four-year-old boy who was injured in a crash in Berwick, Northumberland, today – at a time when the town’s ambulance cover is already under scrutiny.

The youngster was involved in a collision with a car on Prince Edward Road at lunchtime. The lad sustained a head injury and was airlifted to hospital by the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

The North East Ambulance Service was alerted to the incident at 12.29pm but did not reach the scene until 1.17pm – just under 50 minutes after the initial call.

A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “We were called by a member of the public at 12.29pm alerting us to a child who had been struck by car in Berwick. The passer-by reported that the child was conscious, alert and breathing. At 12.55pm, a passing GP stopped and examined the child. As a result the call was upgraded to a higher response. We arrived on scene at 1.17pm. The Great North Air Ambulance Service was followed, and took the patient who was now conscious to the RVI in Newcastle.”

It comes as health bosses are being urged to undertake a review of all inter-related services in Berwick in a bid to improve the town’s ambulance cover, in response to increasing pressure for action following the death of 16-year-old Kyle Lowes in a road accident in January.

On the night of the tragedy, the crew could not be disturbed when the 999 call came in, meaning a paramedic from Wooler was dispatched. The paramedic arrived 23 minutes after the 999 call and informed the Berwick crew, which attended after 26 minutes.

A petition of 4,000 names demanding better ambulance performance in the town was discussed at last week’s NEAS board meeting, at which one director said the current performance of the ambulance service in rural areas is the worst it has been since she joined the board in 2007.