About people, not statistics

Hazel Bettison's concerns about ambulance response times in this area (Berwick Advertiser, August 25) are a timely reminder of a long-standing grievance that North Northumberland is ill-served by this vital service.

Saturday, 3rd September 2016, 08:00 am

Our interests are all too often marginalised. There is little evidence of the strong advocacy, which is sorely needed.

Whilst our MP was robust in criticising ambulance service delivery in the area before her election, she seemed more restrained in her interventions during a recent Parliamentary debate on the issue initiated by Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington.

The North East Ambulance Service appears to be struggling.

It serves a vast area from the North Yorkshire Moors to the Tweed. I believe it is not in a healthy financial position and is hard-pressed to fund improvement. It experiences difficulty in recruiting and retaining front line personnel.

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It is supposed to attend three-quarters of all life threatening calls within eight minutes, yet some months it only manages to reach two-thirds of them within this time-frame. These response times are only averages. Whilst targets within the Newcastle area may be met, the position up here may be much worse than the statistics suggest.

With a crew at the scene of an incident and triage completed, the drive to Cramlington will take about 70 minutes. Despite reduced admissions, there may well be hand-over delays. This, together with possible subsequent diversions, mean it may be some considerable time before an ambulance is back on home station, leaving this area’s cover dependent on redeployment of other crews and cross-Border support to plug the gaps.

A ‘market’ dominated health service has created a plethora of commissioning and contracting bodies. Their deliberations are characterised by management-speak and their success measured through statistical and financial targets, but behind every statistic are real individuals whose interests seem lost in the process.

Colin Wakeling

Berrington Lough