Commissioners have approved the provision of funds for North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to purchase more than 60 additional ambulances, rapid response vehicles and emergency vehicles for community-based paramedics.
The commissioners have also approved proposals to extend the operating hours of some of its existing vehicles and to recruit more than 400 additional frontline staff, including more than 40 in the Trust’s call centres.
The announcement comes following the most challenging year in the trust’s history when last year, 2014-15, NWAS saw an unprecedented increase of 8.1% in ‘999’ calls and 11% for the most serious and life-threatening ‘Red’ calls.
While the trust predicts growth in activity and plans ahead for the required resources, the rise, which was seen nationally as well as in the north west, was substantially above what was expected.
Derek Cartwright, director of operations, said: "It is hugely important for us to plan ahead and ensure we have the appropriate number ready for when we need them as new ambulances and staff can’t just appear overnight.
"We have started the process for phasing these resources in over the coming months and hope to have the full complement of new vehicles and staff in operation by the end of the year.
“We know that sending an ambulance to all patients is not the most appropriate course of action, and our commitment to providing alternative pathways of care, we believe, is still the way forward, however, the statistics have shown that the numbers of patients with life-threatening conditions is rising and these are people who definitely do need an ambulance response.
"These additional vehicles will be of tremendous benefit to them and the Trust and I look forward to welcoming on board the new staff who will work on them.”