Ambulance service now one of the best

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WIGAN’S ambulance service has gone from one of the worst in the country to one of the best - after being threatened with huge fines.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) came under fire from health bosses last year after failing to get to enough 999 calls on time. Now, new figures reveal the service has turned its performance around – and is beating government targets.

The news comes after the trust that runs NWAS was given an ultimatum in August to improve - or face a £3.8m fine.

Paramedics are supposed to get to life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes – and trusts must hit the standard 75 per cent of the time.

But NWAS failed to reach that target in last May and June, achieving only 73.6 per cent.

Health chiefs were set to impose the fine if things did not improve.

Now it has emerged the trust has hit its target every month since – achieving 76.9 per cent in July, 80 per cent in August, 78 per cent in September, 77.4 per cent in October and 78 per cent in November.

That was the second-best performance in the country, behind only South East Coast Ambulance Service on 80.3 per cent.

NWAS said it had met the target for December, too – although figures are not yet available.

Director of service delivery Cath Galaska said: “The North West Ambulance Service is very pleased to confirm that despite an increase in our activity during the summer of 2011, we have been performing well and exceeding the government target for Category A life-threatening calls for the year to date.

“We have also experienced an extremely mild November and December compared to previous years, and have therefore not yet had to contend with severe snow and ice.

She also said the NWAS had invested ‘a great deal in resources and planning’ to improve its performance.