Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, today (December 18th 2014) expressed concern that a new rapid response plan announced by the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
The new rapid response plan may mean a greater reliance on private or volunteer ambulances on the streets of Teesside and East Cleveland.
“This new plan comes after a string of incidents where severely injured and ill people have had long waits for an ambulance. I have already written to NEAS on one recent incident in my constituency where a trapped motorist was left waiting for hours on Saltburn Bank for a second responder ambulance.
“I have read the plan, and one key sentence leaps out – and I quote “We will enlist additional support from voluntary aid services, such as St John and Red Cross.”
“This, to me, is worrying as spending on private firms to provide 999 ambulances across swathes of Britain has doubled in three years, with senior medics and safety campaigners saying they fear patient safety is being jeopardised by a heavy reliance on commercial firms or volunteers to answer emergency calls.
“I gather from one investigation by The Daily Telegraph reveals that the amount spent by the NHS on private and voluntary services to provide 999 care has risen from £24m to £56m in three years”
“Little wonder that the College of Emergency Medicine have said – and again I quote – that the routine use of these firms and agencies was “incredibly wasteful and potentially dangerous” – with too little oversight of providers of these services. We need reassurance from NEAS on this aspect of their new plan”