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Night-time ambulance cover in Carlisle to be cut by third

Ambulance cover in Carlisle will be cut by a third at night-times as part of new money saving proposals.

Ambulance photo

Health union Unison today slammed the move, which would also see nighttime cover reduced in Penrith.

It says the cuts will hit response times, which are already below national targets across north Cumbria.

Mike Oliver, the union’s convener for Cumbria, said the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has told them it needs to save £600,000 across Cumbria and Lancashire.

To achieve about half of this sum, the number of ambulances on duty in Carlisle at nights will be cut from three to two, while Penrith will lose a Rapid Response Vehicle for five hours a night, between 2am and 7am.

NWAS stresses that these decisions have been based on a detailed analysis of usage.

But Mr Oliver, who said he will now start lobbying Cumbria’s MPs, said he can’t understand why Carlisle is being targeted when it is already under pressure.

As a whole the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is meeting the national target – to get to at least 75 per cent of emergencies within eight minutes. But he said that is not the case in all areas.

He said figures for the last financial year show that in north Cumbria only 65.5 per cent to 70 per cent of Red 1 and Red 2 life-threatening emergency calls were dealt within the eight-minute target.

“Why on earth would the trust deem it necessary to make cuts in frontline resources when we aren’t meeting the national target?,” he said. “North Cumbria was the worst performing area in the whole of NWAS last year.

“Yes, NWAS achieves national targets collectively, but that’s because it’s a lot easier to get to emergencies in the bigger cities. It’s not the same in Cumbria.”

Mr Oliver said he feared the move would have an impact on patients. “Ultimately they may have to wait longer,” he said.

“And it’s not just Carlisle. This will have negative effects on the whole area – Penrith, Wigton, Keswick – because resources will have to be pulled away from other areas. Our members work really hard. They already work long hours, sometimes without meal breaks. But with a lack of resources, when one crew is drawn in to cover they will leave huge gaps elsewhere.”

The plans were confirmed at a meeting yesterday.

Derek Cartwright, NWAS director of operations, said the reduction in cover had been planned carefully so it would not impact on care.

He explained: “For some time we have been re-profiling our emergency resources to ensure emergency vehicles are sent to patients who need them. It is true, we do need to make some financial savings.

“However, we are confident this will not affect the quality of care. On the contrary, we believe this will improve patient care, as patients will receive the most appropriate care for their condition.

“Ambulance provision is planned around patient need and activity. We routinely review provision throughout the north west, based upon the activity in localised areas and we have made significant investment, providing more appropriate responses to non-life-threatening emergencies, such as our urgent care desks, which provides telephone advice and triage and can direct patients to more appropriate services”

He said Red 1 and 2 calls only accounted for nearly 40 per cent of 999 calls, and a fifth of patients were not taken to hospital.

But Mr Oliver said funding cuts are now hitting frontline care across the NHS, which is why he will be calling on MPs to raise Cumbria’s problems at Government level.

Have your say

Serious subject update. Sign the petition. It could be you that needs an ambulance urgently. Caring Signatures were being taken on Monday in Carlisle's city town centre.

Posted by Roy L Gadsby on 19 May 2014 at 15:29

Tracy Watt. Similar happened to myself in 1960's. Only three minutes. 180 seconds. I was later informed I was between life and death as the surgeon added any later with a appendicitis condition verging on peritonitis with tubes down me for over two weeks. My former admired late supervisors two young sons at 14/15 had died of appendicitis. I'm sure ambulances were a lot slower in those days with less vehicle speed efficiency capability and technical apparatus but nonetheless, we are still talking about an emergency response that would herald itself back to pre-standards days when people did die as I'm full aware with former sadly missed work colleague's and own families, as thankfully my (999) call was made during daytime, (my parent had sense to have a GPO telephone installed. Mobiles are now similar life-savers...I can even call vet for an injured dog but not perhaps for... ). Unbeknown, if night time response time was then equal across the board when now half a century later officials are talking now about a two-tier service of day and night. With full Grace of God 50 years and approaching old age pension (parent of two fantastic successful sons and grandparent of twins...) after many years of an employed working life (some little tiny gaps) and many voluntary roles, such as hospital car driver for Cumbria Ambulance I believe authorities should rethink about such cuts in any emergency service as I recall answering such many 999 calls and many hat supervising roles in GPO/BT. I do however believe any high costs against ambulance service expenses for those flown in from mountain hikes should be borne by personal insurance especially when they are not fully kit out for their purpose intended, and such treatable on the spot minor injuries. Being one of few folks that have had 999 response calls for the Lifeboat service and such similar cuts in Cumbria what service cuts are next to be stopped? Carlisle Hospitals as I recall former teenage friend (Wini) being rushed to Newcastle hospitals in same decade (1960's) when again and again, we hear failures of less superior medical services available within Cumbria.

S T O P A L L T H E S E C U T S !!!

Posted by Roy L Gadsby on 17 May 2014 at 10:13

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