Ambulance service facing cuts in town

The scene of an accident near Scaling Dam on the A171
The scene of an accident near Scaling Dam on the A171

Lives could be put in danger if proposed cuts to Whitby’s ambulance service are taken forward, it has been claimed.

The Whitby Gazette understands proposals, set to be implemented at the start of next year by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service as it strives to make £46m cuts over the next five years, would see the town’s ambulance cover reduced.

A former Whitby ambulance station paramedic, who did not wish to be named, got in touch with the Gazette after becoming concerned when a current ambulance service employee showed him sample rotas for the next year.

Two double ambulance crews currently operate out of Whitby station in split shifts. A rapid response vehicle is also used between 8am to 8pm.

The proposal would see only one ambulance operating out of Whitby, while the rapid response vehicle would be available 24 hours a day.

While the car is able to respond to emergencies quicker, it can not transport patients to hospital and it has been claimed that the ambulance service is therefore prioritising hitting strict response time targets – instead of patient care.

Ambulance services are given strict response time targets, with ambulances required to arrive at the most serious cases within eight minutes 75 per cent of the time, and with 19 minutes 95 per cent of the time.

With outlying villages such as Castleton and Danby lying within their remit, Whitby’s ambulance station struggles to achieve this target.

The former paramedic said: “They appear to be hitting targets because they have cars running left, right and centre.

“But then they have got to wait for a double-manned ambulance to transport the patient. You get the problem of car drivers sitting in someone’s house, waiting for an ambulance to come from who knows where.”

Yorkshire Ambulance Service Chairman Della Cannings said: “Providing high quality, safe and responsive care to our patients remains our top priority and this is evidenced in our quality accounts.”