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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Plans to cut Cumbrian ambulances are on hold, confirm bosses

Ambulance bosses have confirmed plans to cut 999 cover in Carlisle and Penrith are on hold – but have not been fully withdrawn.

Ambulance photo
Ambulance

Related: Night-time ambulance service cuts in north Cumbria on hold after public backlash

To date 10,000 people have signed a petition opposing proposals to cut the number of night time ambulances in Carlisle from three to two, and take a Rapid Response Vehicle off the road for part of the night in Penrith.

Ambulance chiefs attended a heated public meeting in Carlisle last week, where the strength of feeling from local residents was made clear. As a result, they have now agreed to put the plans on hold while they look at alternatives – but have not scrapped the plans completely.

Derek Cartwright, director of operations for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said: “It is very important for us as a public service provider to listen to the concerns of the communities we serve which is why myself and the director of finance/deputy chief executive attended last week’s meeting.

“We fully appreciate that any changes to ambulance provision is a concern to the public, and we have met and will continue to engage with the unions and staff to discuss any proposed changes to frontline resources. We also made a commitment to speak to our commissioners to determine whether there are any alternative options available.

“Whilst we are still working to our original plans, we acknowledge and recognise the specific issues around the wider health economy in North Cumbria. To that end, whilst conversations and negotiations continue regarding the implementation of our plans, we will continue to temporarily provide cover for the shifts in question.”

NWAS came up with the plans as part of wider cost-cutting measures.

But Mike Oliver, of health union Unison, said he was concerned it would impact on 999 response times – already failing to meet national targets.

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