More than £6.5 million will be invested in the North East Ambulance Service over the next four years to recruit 100 more staff to meet new national response time standards and improve services to patients.
An additional £9 million worth of efficiencies and productivity savings have also been agreed with support from the regional health system to improve response times set by the Department of Health and Social Care in late 2017.
Alan Foster, lead for the integrated care system in the North East NHS said: “This new money will be invested in more staff and new vehicles to meet the new response time standards across the region.”
Mr Foster is leading plans for integrating care and developing partnerships across the region that will ensure that the performance of the ambulance service supports the whole health system across the North East.
He added: “The ambulance service can be likened to being the arteries of the health system that joins together all of the different parts of our regional health economy. This investment into the ambulance service will ensure that they will be able to meet the vision for the NHS set out in its five-year strategy.”
The increased investment and efficiencies achieved will not only support the recruitment of around 50 paramedics and a further 50 clinical care assistants, but will also see an increase in the number of double-crewed ambulances, some of which will replace some non-paramedic emergency vehicles and some rapid response cars.
The recruitment and training of extra staff and new vehicles will mean that the performance against the national response standards will improve as the extra staff join the frontline after recruitment and training.
Yvonne Ormston, chief executive of North East Ambulance Service, said: “We are consistently meeting our response times to the highest priority of patients in a potentially life-threatened condition.
“However, for those patients who do not have an immediate need for an ambulance, some of them are waiting too long. This is because ambulance demand has increased by more than a third in the last 10 years and matching our workforce to this demand will allow us to provide a better service to patients by increasing levels of cover at peak demand times and reducing cover over quieter periods.”