Greater Manchester emergency services 'in disarray', MP claims

Image caption Graham Stringer has said response times have doubled in some areas

Emergency services in Greater Manchester are in "disarray" following spending cuts, an MP has claimed.

Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, raised the issue at Prime Minister's Questions.

He told Prime Minister David Cameron the response time had doubled in some areas of Greater Manchester and the police switchboard was in "meltdown".

The claims were disputed by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS).

Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Mr Stringer said: "A change in the national targets regime and cuts have led to the emergency services in Greater Manchester being in disarray.

"A stroke victim had to wait for an hour for an ambulance."

He added: "What reassurances can the prime minister give to the house that there won't be a tragic death because of his failure of the service?"

Mr Cameron said he would look into the claims.

'Best performing service'

Ch Sup Ian Wiggett, of GMP, said: "We are not in meltdown. We are meeting and, in fact, exceeding all our targets in handling both 999 and non-emergency calls and for attending incidents.

"We are not making any call handlers or radio operators redundant. We are actually recruiting into these roles from a pool of internal candidates.

"Of course we have to make changes due to the current financial situation, but much of the reduction is being met by moving to different premises and working in a different way.

"Through this we have saved £5.5m out of a £31m budget while maintaining the same level of service."

A North West Ambulance Service spokeswoman said it was the best performing service in the country.

She said the NWAS would not comment specifically on the MP's comments but that it was on track, halfway through the financial year, to meet its targets.

She added: "The trust also has an excellent record for call answering within five seconds, which means patients are getting through to our call centres immediately."

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