Quadruple spending on private ambulances in the North East raises ‘serious questions’

New figures released today (21st October 2014) have revealed that spending on private ambulance services by the North East Ambulance Service, which covers Teesside, has more than quadrupled between the financial years 2011/12 and 2013/14

Freedom of Information requests by Labour to all ambulance trusts reveals an increase of 82% between financial years 2011/12 and 2013/14 – from £37 million to £67.5 million last year. In 2011/12 the amount spent was £639,820, but this rose by 353% to £2,898,275 in 2013/14.

Commenting on the figures, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop said:
“These stark figures clearly show that under David Cameron the private sector has been driven to the core of our NHS. Every part of the NHS is at risk of being put up for sale by the Coalition Government.

“I’ve raised my concerns previously at the sharp rise in the use of private ambulance operators and the warning signs have been apparent for over 2 years, yet this government has continued to ignore this.

“In the North East, we have witnessed a quadrupling of expenditure on private ambulance services. Serious questions around whether their staff have sufficient training and if they are fully equipped have, rightfully, been raised. It was only in August this year that figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed that complaints against ambulance crews had increased by more than 28% in the last year. Instead of denying there is a problem, the government urgently needs to reassure people that when they dial 999, they will be getting a blue-light service they can rely on.”

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