CONTROVERSIAL plans to scrap Berwick’s daytime ambulance have been dropped today after additional funding was agreed to retain the service. The U-Turn comes after a campaign led by the Berwick Advertiser exerted huge pressure on the North East Ambulance Service to reverse its proposal.
The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) announced today that the service in Berwick will now remain untouched. The decision was made after NHS commissioners agreed additional funding to improve ambulance response times in Northumberland and County Durham.
In a campaign led by The Berwick Advertiser, more than 10,000 people had signed a petition opposing the proposal to cut the town’s daytime ambulance, leaving it with a single ambulance providing 24-hour cover.
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith said: “I am delighted that ambulance chiefs have listened to the very strong views of people in and around Berwick upon Tweed – this is a victory for common sense and the safety of the public. I am very grateful to the thousands of people who have signed my petition, and to all those who supported the Save Berwick’s Emergency Ambulance campaign in so many ways. The Berwick Advertiser has played a very important part in this campaign and I would like to thank the paper for its support.”
Simon Featherstone, NEAS chief executive, said: “This extra funding represents a significant investment in our emergency service to bring our rural areas up to the same level of performance as our urban regions. We also recognise how valuable this increased funding is at a time when there is so much pressure on the public purse. Both our NHS commissioners and us have listened to the views given in response to our current consultation on our A&E ambulance review and this has allowed us to maintain the existing services we have in Berwick, Alnwick and Haltwhistle while allowing us to invest in more resources in other parts of Northumberland and County Durham where 999 demand continues to increase.”