News : Extra Paramedics Tackle East Lancashire 999 Surge
Lancashire, UK, Feb 20, 2015 -- Extra ambulance staff are being drafted into East Lancashire after the busiest period in the history of North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).
NWAS has dropped to the bottom of the national table for the proportion of the most serious ‘Red 1’ calls responded to within eight minutes.
Bosses said a surge in 999 calls led to severe delays, but a significant number of additional staff have been recruited to bolster the workforce.
This includes 68 new ambulance crew members who started in December, with another 68 due to start in March.
It has not yet been decided how many will go to East Lancashire, but it is likely to be around ten, based on the area’s population.
Meanwhile, the 999 call centre in Broughton, which handles calls for Lancashire and Cumbria, will have nine new workers by March.
Bosses said these will be additional staff, although many will be filling existing positions which have been vacant.
A national shortage of paramedics and other clinical staff has left many trusts struggling to fill posts, and even after the recruitment drive, 64 paramedic jobs will still be vacant at the end of March, according to the trust’s board papers.
NWAS employs about 4,000 ‘uniformed’ staff in total, a figure which includes ambulance crews, operational managers, 999 call handlers and others.
Derek Cartwright, director of operations, said: "We have done as much as we can to try to mitigate the challenges the call increases have presented us with and have introduced a number of initiatives to ensure as many as ambulances as possible are available to attend emergency cases.
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"We are doing all we can to continue to provide a high quality service but would be very grateful to the people of the North West if they would assist us by only calling in real emergencies and first of all consider the alternatives we have outlined here.
"In all weathers and at all times of the day and night, our staff strive to reach all patients as quickly as possible and I am very proud of how they represent the trust and the work hard to provide the very best care."
He said the use of volunteer services such as mountain rescue teams, Red Cross, St John Ambulance and community first responders was also being boosted.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust is the second largest ambulance service in the country, providing 24 hour, 365 days a year accident and emergency services to those in need of emergency medical treatment and transport.
Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2015