North East Ambulance Service Chief Operating Officer Paul Liversidge said: “We welcome this announcement.
“Like all other ambulance services in the country, we have struggled to achieve our response times against a rising demand and shortage of paramedics. The way we operate needed to change to respond to these modern-days demands. We need to ensure we are still able to get to those patients who need an ambulance quickest while also helping others who don’t necessarily benefit from an eight minute response. Having longer to assess their needs on the telephone will mean we can better match them to the different clinical skills of our staff and the type of vehicles we dispatch.
“This also means we can avoid sending more than one vehicle to a patient, avoid working less efficiently, and better direct patients to alternative healthcare providers where it is safe and appropriate to do so. It will take time to adapt our workforce and fleet to meet these new standards, but our early adoption of giving our call handlers more time to assess each patient has improved our response to immediate life threatening calls and increased the number of people who are given treatment advice over the phone without the need for an ambulance.”