Town snubbed for new ambulances

An Ambulance outside Wigan Accident and Emergency Department
An Ambulance outside Wigan Accident and Emergency Department

DOZENS of new ambulances and emergency response staff will soon be serving communities across the North West but Wigan is to miss out on the boost.

Bosses at the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) have secured funds for more than 60 new vehicles and will recruit hundreds of additional frontline staff to deal with increased demand.

One of the extra ambulances will cover the Atherton area although Wigan itself has been deemed to already have adequate resources for the current demand.

A NWAS spokesman said: “We would have liked to have placed new vehicles in every area but we had to evaluate which areas needed them the most.”

The Trust has seen an unprecedented 8.1 per cent increase in 999 calls and an 11 per cent surge in calls for the most serious and life-threatening incidents during the last year. The unexpected rise resulted in NWAS missing patient waiting time targets.

Director of operations Derek Cartwright said: “Based on these figures and planned trajectories for the coming months, very open and constructive talks were held with Commissioners who fully understood the challenge we faced. Since our establishment as a Trust in 2006, we have seen a growth of two per cent per annum and there is no reason to believe that will change. This is a fantastic boost for the Trust and, I’m sure, for the staff who have been working extremely hard to cope with the additional demand.”

More than a dozen additional vehicles will be introduced including in Atherton, Oldham, Rochdale, Dukinfield, Stockport, Central Manchester and Salford. Bolton has been handed two new rapid response vehicles. One location for an RRV has not been confirmed, so Wigan could be in the running.

Mr Cartwright added: “It’s all well and good purchasing additional ambulances but people need to operate them, people are needed to answer the 999 calls and staff are required to then dispatch the vehicles. We’re absolutely delighted that, despite the financial challenges faced by NHS trusts today, we are swelling our ranks rather than reducing them.”