England

North West paramedics 'diverted for Olympic Games'

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) vehicle
Image caption Up to 50 frontline staff could be sent to London to help cover the games

Paramedics from north-west England could be diverted to London for the Olympic Games, with the local NHS trust covering the cost.

About 50 paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) are likely to be asked to work in the capital for more than two months in 2012.

Some board members have expressed concern about the implications for performance and patient care.

A NWAS spokesperson said that final numbers had yet to be decided.

The plan was revealed in the minutes from a NWAS board of directors meeting held last month.

It read: "The Chief Executive briefed the Board on preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games and noted the likelihood that the Trust would be requested to release approximately 50 staff over a 72 day period to support the event.

"He advised that costs incurred would need to be met locally and noted that the Trust would be unable to compel staff to support the event.

"He advised that the matter had been discussed with the Trust's Commissioners who were supportive of a solution based on national funding provision."

According to the minutes, non-executive director Patricia Corless "expressed concern at the potential loss of 50 frontline staff and the implications for performance and patient care in the north west".

Despite the opposition, the board endorsed the principle of support, but said that any implementation of the idea should involve "risk sharing".

In a statement, a NWAS spokesperson said trusts across the UK were being asked to support the Greater London trusts during the Games.

With thousands of people staying in London the spokesperson said it was "vital" they had access to emergency healthcare.

"The North West Ambulance Service, along with our ambulance colleagues throughout the country, have been asked to provide some paramedic support to the event and we are currently looking at ways in which we can do this, whilst maintaining the day to day operations of the trust," the spokesperson added.

"A final decision has yet to be taken on the numbers of staff involved and we will be working closely with our commissioners to ensure adequate cover is maintained in the region."

Ambulance unions are yet to comment on the proposals.

The trust employs about 2,300 emergency frontline road staff across Cheshire, Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside.

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