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North East MPs express fears over health of ambulance service

MPs in the North East have expressed their fears for the health of the region's ambulance service.

In a debate in parliament, they said there are too many cases of patients waiting too long for an ambulance.

The North East Ambulance Service said the number of 999 calls of the the highest priority has risen by 21% in a year.

Labour MP for Washington and Sunderland West Sharon Hodgson requested the debate.

She cited the case of one constituent who had to wait more than six hours before being taken to hospital to be treated for a bleed on the brain.

The North East Ambulance Service has a target of reaching 75% of the highest priority emergencies, known as red calls, in eight minutes.

But in the 11 months before February it had achieved that in only 69.6% of cases.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "This is mainly because of an increase in the number of 999 incidents that are prioritised as red calls.

"When there is an increased demand on our service, we must always prioritise our resources to those most in need.

"This means that ambulances initially assigned to Green calls will be diverted to any incoming Red calls that are potentially life-threatening emergencies.

"This can result in the response to these less serious calls being delayed."

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