More ambulances needed to help local patients, Scunthorpe public meeting told
Bosses at the trust that runs ambulances in North Lincolnshire say more vehicles are needed to treat patients in the area.
Dr James Gray, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) medical director, made the announcement in a meeting held on a major review into the way his organisation operates.
At the meeting, at the Berkeley Hotel, Scunthorpe, Dr Gray faced questions from paramedics concerned about ambulance numbers in the region.
Figures from EMAS show that, on average, it currently takes a paramedic 33-and-a- half minutes to queue and deliver a patient to Scunthorpe General Hospital – and more ambulances would cut this number.
He was asked whether there would be an increase in ambulance numbers in the area – but despite agreeing that he could "see the need for more vehicles", he gave no specific pledges about increasing numbers.
Dr Gray said: "We have a finite number of ambulances, but hopefully the changes will help increase the effectiveness of them.
"Next year we want to have no ambulances that are older than five years old.
"I can see the need for more vehicles. The demand has gone up faster than the funding has. We need to make changes."
There are currently six ambulances and three fast response vehicles serving the North Lincolnshire area on the busiest days – Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
The rest of the week, there are four ambulances and three fast response vehicles in the region.
One of the paramedics at the meeting – all of whom spoke anonymously – said: "Ambulance turnaround times at Scunthorpe General Hospital are getting worse and we are not hitting times because of reductions further down the line. Do you know of any solution to this?"
Dr Gray said: "This is a problem across the East Midlands which has been identified as a system failure.
"We have tried to address this problem and create a solution but it is a problem with the health care system and not EMAS.
"We are working with health care partners to sort this out."
The meeting took place to discuss changes to EMAS.
The group wants to set up new hubs throughout the East Midlands which will act as so-called super-stations.
The hub in North Lincolnshire might be based in Elsham, while community ambulance posts across the area would replace existing ambulance stations.
Consultation on the EMAS changes will close on Monday, December 17.
A decision will then be made in January 2013, while the changes will be rolled out between April 2013 and April 2018.