Ambulance service gets £10.4m funding boost to meet response time targets

North East Ambulance Service
North East Ambulance Service

The ambulance service have been given a £10.4million boost to help improve standards across the board – despite reaching the most seriously ill patients faster than anywhere else in the country.

Although paramedics in the North East reach the most urgent calls faster than anywhere else in the country, they are missing targets for certain other cases.

North East Ambulance Service bosses said they have been given a funding boost of £10.4million over the next four years to help bring improvements.

This will see 100 more paramedics brought in, along with 90 more clinical care assistants and 36 new ambulances.

They also added an extra £9.4million which has been saved from internal efficiencies, will also be focused on improving performance standards.

According to figures from April 2018 until the end of January this year, the North East produced the best national rate of reaching category one cases, the most urgent, quicker than the seven minute target.

However for category two patients, classified as having a ‘potentially serious’ condition, it missed the 18-minute target by almost three minutes, on average.

They also fall short of the national average for category three calls, which are urgent problems not classed as immediately life threatening.

Mark Cotton, the North East Ambulance Service’s assistant director of communications and engagement, presented the findings to Hartlepool Borough Council Audit and Governance committee as part of its quality accounts.

He said: “We’re one of three ambulance services in the country that is achieving this category one response target to patients who most seriously need it and we are the only ambulance service in the country to consistently achieve it since the targets came in.

“This is something we’re really proud about.

“The picture for category two though is indeed in need of improvement.

“The figure is a bit mixed, for those patients who most seriously need our help we are getting there faster than anyone else in the country, but we do need to make some improvements elsewhere.

“The ambulance services requires some additional support to put that into place.

“Our commissioners have increased our budget by £10.4million over the next four years in order to recruit more than 100 paramedics and another 90 clinical care assistants to work with them on board 36 new vehicles in addition to those we already have our across our region.”

Mr Cotton added they hope to have all the new members of staff in place by the summer, but it will take time for them to complete paramedic training.

He said: “We hope to have the numbers of staff that we require by this summer in order to get underway.

“We are running a very good training programme and getting lots through that but the paramedics training takes three years to complete, we are a year into the programme, so it will take another couple of years to get that skill mix right.

“The funding is there, the recruitment is there and the training package is underway.”

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service