Sleaford’s new Tory MP, Dr Caroline Johnson used her first question in the House of Commons to press the Prime Minister to do more to support rural ambulance services in light of the acute pressure they have been under over the Christmas and New Year period.
In Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon (Wednesday) Dr Johnson used her personal knowledge of the health service to tackle her party leader on an issue that was also raised yesterday with the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt by fellow Lincolnshire MPs Matt Warman and Edward Leigh, saying:
“I know from my career in medicine that the men and women of our East Midlands Ambulance Service do a brave and sterling job for the people of Sleaford and North Hykeham and others, saving people’s lives every day.
“East Midlands Ambulance Service responded to a total of 11,662 999 calls over the Christmas bank holiday weekend alone, 2,500 of which were in Lincolnshire.
“Will the Prime Minister join me in paying tribute to their dedication, particularly over the busy winter period, and tell the House what more the Government can do to support our ambulance services and improve response times in rural areas such as Sleaford and North Hykeham?”
The Prime Minister replied: “May I thank my hon. Friend for her question, and also for bringing her personal experience as a medical professional to this issue.
“We recognise that ambulance services are very busy, which is why we see over 2,000 more paramedics now compared with 2010, and we are increasing paramedic training places by over 60 per cent this year. Also, the Department of Health, NHS Employers and ambulance unions have agreed changes to the compensation for paramedics, potentially giving them a pay increase of up to £14,000 as they progress.
“We recognise the excellent work that they do.”
She also paid tribute they had been doing over the winter period.
Commenting afterwards, Dr Johnson said: “The medical and support staff at EMAS do a great job in challenging circumstances, coping with increased numbers of emergency calls in some very rural areas, and I am glad that the Prime Minister recognises this.
“I know from my own experience and from talking to my constituents that there are concerns about issues such as response times and handovers at our hospitals, and I intend to do what I can as an MP to push for improvements to be made.
“I will shortly be meeting with the EMAS Chief Executive to discuss these issues with him fully.”
* Dr Johnson’s question can be viewed here.