Ambulance service gets £6.6m for new vehicles ahead of busy winter period

A shopper who collapsed in Home Bargains being helped into A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital
A shopper who collapsed in Home Bargains being helped into A&E at Blackpool Victoria Hospital

The ambulance service has spent £6.62 million on 69 new “paramedic emergency service vehicles” in a bid to beat response time targets this winter.

Lancashire has been given eight of those – two in Preston and one each in Blackpool, Thornton, Wesham, Leyland, Accrington, and Blackburn – the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) said.

Interim chief executive Michael Forrest said the cash, from the Department of Health, was “very much welcomed”.

He said: “We already have robust performance improvement plans in place to ensure we deliver the right care at the right time in the right place every time, and this funding will strengthen those plans.

“Over the past few years, we have seen a substantial rise in activity, which unforunately does impact on our performance. The rise in seirously ill patients during this time means more people need to go to hospital, and this further adds to our challenge. Having additional ermgency ambulances will definitely benefit not only the public, but our staff too.”

Last winter, NWAS was branded a “shambles” in Parliament as it came under scrutiny for failing to hit response time targets.

The government’s shadow minister for housing, Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd, said ambulances were only reaching the most serious of cases in an average of 11 minutes, when targets said 75 per cent should be answered within eight. In response, NWAS said he was referring to “out-of-date” targets that were not comparable to new measures brought in back in August 2017, but acknowledged times were “not ... as good as we would like”.