An ambulance chief tonight called on concerned north Norfolk residents to lobby their GPs for more 999-service funding.

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Dr Pamela Chrispin, deputy chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, was addressing about 60 representatives from 34 town and parish councils across the district worried about proposed cuts and other changes to the existing ambulance service.

She said the £50m savings in five years which the trust had to make was part of the harsh political reality facing all parts of the public sector.

But from April next year GPs would hold the purse strings, buying services from the trust through their new clinical commissioning groups.

Dr Chrispin said the trust would greatly value the support of the community in putting pressure on them.

She was among four trust representatives at the meeting, arranged by Cromer Town Council, who fielded a succession of questions about the long delays faced by many ill people in rural areas as they waited for an ambulance, and about the trust’s finances and targets.

Oskan Edwardson, the trust’s lead on strategic change projects, told the audience that the number of 999 calls had risen nationally by between three and six per cent annually for the last 10 years, with only about 60pc of these patients actually needing hospital care

There was no single cause for the increase but changes in the GP out-of-hours service, ambulances caught up in queues at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, and cuts in other public services affecting the elderly were contributory factors.

“We have become the safety net for health. Trust staff want to meet the need as best we can but we are in an unparalleled time of challenges,” he said.

Holt town councillor Maggie Prior said she was worried by the trust’s tendency to reply to concerns with statistics.

“The bottom line is are there enough ambulances in this rural area, with its high population of elderly people, to cover? We are not getting the service we need. What direction do we need to go to get it?” she asked.

Mr Edwardson said there was a dilemma in the fact that performance targets were set regionally while rural areas wanted something specific to their needs.

He added: “Do the staff on the road have a passion to get to people in need as quickly as we can? Yes, we do. Are we frustrated at this level of cuts? Of course we are. Within the targets we have been set we are doing our best.”

● The EDP launched its Ambulance Watch campaign earlier this month in reponse to concerns about the disparity is reponse times between urban and rural areas, with counties like Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgshire getting a poorer deal than the three other counties in the region.

7 comments

  • NOT THE HEALTH MINISTER NORMAN LAMB?? IS HE A LOST CAUSE

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    Double Bill

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

  • WHY DIDNT NORMAN LAMB ATTEND? LOSE HIS INVITE?

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    Double Bill

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

  • Seems the key point raised was the factor of being unable to gain a doctors appointment unless one is prepared to wait for up to three days Then the next course seems to attend the outpatient departmen of the local hospital or CALL FOR AN AMBULANCE of which 60% of calls are unnecessary With the population of East Anglia having increased by 22% over the last 6 years a reduction of 50 million pounds in spending is sheer lunacy Never mind our overseas aid budget is being increased annually to several billion pounds Must presume this has no bearing on our cutbacks?

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    Claire Voyant

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

  • This is a refreshing dose of common sense. I know it's too early to be optimistic, but I'm glad the EEAST board are at least acknowledging that they need more money to deliver an effective service. I hope this leads somewhere.

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    Mathew Westhorpe

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

  • Claire - Lobby Norman Lamb? He is in the Health Department. You might also ask why he has voted for these "savings" in the NHS!

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

  • after waiting in excess of 2 hours for an ambulance for my wife to be taken to hospital due to a complication from a routine operation. i now realise that there is literally no cover in North Norfolk one paramedic trying to do 10 jobs at once and really unable to provide the service he wants too and 1 private ambulance as all the NHS ones were busy in Norwich how long before people start losing their lives SOD the cuts i would much rather pay more tax rather than see people die for lack of money you cant take £50 million out of a service and expect it to function as it did before.

    Report this comment

    MrB

    Wednesday, October 17, 2012

  • Dr. Crispin should tell people more about what an "emergency" is. Looks like everybody thinks everything that happens is one - from a heart attack to a cut finger!

    Report this comment

    frogkisser

    Thursday, October 18, 2012

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