Ambulance employees from leading unions have accepted controversial plans to shake up emergency services in the region.
As reported in The Journal, members of Unison and the GMB initially voted against the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s (NEAS) accident and emergency review.
But now the unions say they have accepted proposals and will be going into negotiations with their members.
Chris Jukes, the union’s regional political officer, said: “GMB members appear to have accepted the A&E review and we will be going into negotiations with the North East Ambulance Service. Further information will be released in due course.”
Part of the plans include changing the way the trust operates, with a “non-emergency” tier of ambulances introduced to deal with calls not classed as 999 emergencies. These vehicles, which would not be staffed by a paramedic, are aimed at dealing with GP and hospital transfers.
Ambulance bosses say the changes mean an extra 67 staff and nine additional ambulances for the region.
The last review of this kind was in 2006. The new arrangements take into account subsequent and future changes to the local population, and how NEAS resources can be positioned to maintain high standards of care.
Paul Liversidge, director of operations at NEAS, said: “Our objective is to ensure a paramedic is sent to every 999 patient who needs one; that there are more frontline paramedic-crewed A&E vehicles available for life-threatening emergency calls; and that we provide a service which allows us to meet the demand from non-emergency patients.”
NEAS attends all life-threatening emergency calls within 19 minutes in 97% of cases. The national target for this is 95%. The proposals are aimed at ensuring that response times continue to be met in the future against an increase in demand.
Under the new arrangements, advanced technicians, who form part of an ambulance crew, have also been offered student paramedic places.