I was delighted to receive a call last week from Richard Henderson, Chief Executive of East Midlands Ambulance Service, to let me know that our ambulance service has been awarded an additional £19 million a year and thanking me for my role in highlighting the need for additional investment.
When I ran a survey of local health services last summer, long ambulance waits in Buxton and the central area of High Peak were one of the main issues raised, and terrible delays have been described to me, with some awful consequences for patients and their families. So ambulance improvements have been one of my top priorities.
To find out the reasons, I visited the ambulance HQ in Nottingham to see how calls were dealt with, had discussions with staff, and did a 12 hour shift with Dave and Jess, paramedics based at Buxton.
I secured an hour-long debate in Parliament where I highlighted that EMAS has the second lowest level of funding of all the regions – 8% lower than average, in spite of being the second most sparsely populated region, so ambulances have to travel further. In the last 7 years, the number of ambulance responses rose by over 50% from 222,000 to 336,000. Yet EMAS’s funding has risen by just 3% since 2011, in spite of inflation of 16%.
I am very pleased that Derbyshire will now get 50 additional ambulance staff, together with more vehicles and equipment, enabling ambulances to respond more quickly and consistently to 999 calls and urgent GP requests for ambulances across the region.
I know that Richard and the staff at EMAS are keen to get on with recruitment and the investment they have needed for so long, so I hope we will soon start to see improvements to the service in High Peak – for both our hard-pressed ambulance staff, and for long-suffering patients.
You can read the statement from EMAS here: