A TORY MP is backing volunteer medics who fear their role is being down-graded even though the ambulance service is failing to hit its targets.
Eddisbury MP Stephen O’Brien is supporting Community First Responders who have bases in Malpas and Tattenhall and are on call to deal with life-threatening situations which cannot wait until the ambulance arrives up to 30 minutes later.
Mr O’Brien is incensed North West Ambulance Service is planning to reduce training and equipment for the First Responders so they cannot attend certain calls even though emergency ambulances are struggling to hit response times in the rural area.
Mr O’Brien said: “There are very real fears among our local First Responders that the proposed new training regime will see their role downgraded and strip them of the ability to treat children under 14 and stop them from administering life-saving drugs.
“Only last week I revealed just how badly North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is performing in response to emergency category A calls in rural Cheshire.”
Under a Government target, 75% of serious emergencies – known as Category A incidents – should be reached within eight minutes but the actual figure for Central Cheshire is 63% and for Western Cheshire it is 69%.
“This is simply not good enough and underlines why our First Responders in Malpas, Tattenhall and those hoping to provide the service in the Audlem area are absolutely vital in our area and the ability to rapidly deliver emergency care.
Mr O’Brien has written to NWAS chief executive John Burnside seeking urgent assurances First Responders will continue to be fully trained and supported.
He added: “Many of our hard-working volunteer First Responders are even considering quitting if their training is downgraded. At a time when NWAS is failing to deliver on their response time promises, the last thing they should be doing is cutting back on their training provision. Lives could be put at risk if patients are forced to wait for an ambulance to arrive, which in our part of Cheshire can be up to 20 minutes after our local First Responders.”
The issue over training levels has arisen because NWAS is standardising its First Responder service across the region following a merger of the local trust with Manchester, Lancashire and Cumbria.
This week Malpas Parish Council threw its weight behind the campaign to maintain standards.
Chairman Keith Ebben said: “It seems a totally deplorable and retrograde step – reducing the level of service because other areas have not been trained up to it.”
Ambulance spokesman Asiya Jelani said her organisation was committed to First Responders and was expanding the scheme.
She said: “There is very little change in terms of their first support. The main support First Responders can offer is life-saving support – the ABC (airways, breathing, circulation).”
She added that ambulance response times in Cheshire’s rural area could be improved but were “going in the right direction”.