The recent difficulties encountered by people waiting too long for ambulances in north Northumberland will probably only be solved by having at least one more emergency ambulance allocated to the area.
That is the view of Berwick Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith who raised the matter during a House of Commons debate.
In one case, a boy from Norham near Berwick had to wait over an hour for an ambulance to travel to him from Amble, over 40 miles away, even though he had suspected meningitis.
Sir Alan: “The new specialist emergency hospital is nearly 60 miles from Berwick.
“Given the serious delays in ambulance attendance in recent cases in Northumbria, how can we be sure that serious cases will get paramedic attendance and delivery to the hospital within the critical hour?”
Health Minister and Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb replied: “My right hon. Friend is right to raise concern. The North East Ambulance Service has traditionally been a good performer, but any deterioration that has been identified needs to be addressed very speedily.
“I urge him to monitor this closely, and if he wants to talk about it further with me, I will be happy to do so.”
Following the debate, Sir Alan said: “It is very difficult to see how adequate response times can be guaranteed unless at least one additional emergency ambulance can be stationed in north Northumberland.”
Sir Alan has raised his concerns with the chief Executives of the North East Ambulance Service and Northumbria Healthcare, which is developing the new Specialist Emergency Care Centre.
The £200 million scheme near Cramlington is due to open next year.