Ambulance service accused of putting 'lives at risk' in rural areas (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Ambulance service accused of putting 'lives at risk' in rural areas
6:19pm Friday 6th September 2013 in News
AN NHS ambulance trust that is falling far short of national response time targets in rural areas says it is working to address the shortcomings after claims that lives were being put at risk.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) figures is reaching only 57 per cent of call-outs for patients with life-threatening conditions within eight minutes in Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby this year.
The Government’s target for ambulance services is to reach 75 per cent of emergency calls within that time, but it is widely accepted that target would be difficult to achieve in rural areas.
YAS, which covers almost 6,000 square miles, said it was only failing to meet the response time targets in its northern area.
The North East Ambulance Service said its reponse times to emergency call-outs had improved from 76.4 per cent last year to 79 per cent so far this year.
Vince Larvin, operations director at YAS, said it was launching a range of schemes with the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group to address the situation.
Mr Larvin added: "It really is quite a challenge, but it is not insurmountable and we do now have a great opportunity to improve things.
"We are working with them to maximise the resources we have and that means doing things differently and steering our resources into more community-based projects."
He said extra ambulance stand-by points at Catterick, Bedale and Richmond would be operational within months, paramedics would based in surgeries to respond to local emergency calls and more community first responders were being recruited.
In March, ambulance chiefs moved to reassure Yorkshire Dales residents about their commitment to patient safety after it emerged Bainbridge Ambulance Station had been left unmanned for three shifts during the previous month.
Upper Dales councillor John Blackie said while response times remained well below national targets, lives were being put at risk in remote areas such as the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
He said: “New initiatives are well and good, but only new resources, extra frontline staff and ambulances, will make a difference.
“Residents in Hawes are 60 miles from the specialist help at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, and those furthest from hospitals should have the first call on the ambulance service’s resources.”
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