Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered a review of break protocol of ambulance crews in the wake of the tragic death of a teenager earlier this year.
Kyle Lowes, 16, died while an ambulance crew took a break just four minutes away. It took ambulance crews 26 minutes to arrive at the scene where the teenager died after a scooter crash in Berwick, Northumberland.
It later emerged that a crew was just minutes away from the scene, but was not asked to attend because they were on a break.
But now Mr Hunt has instructed the chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, Dr Anthony Marsh, to find a solution and report back by April.
There are different interpretations of the rules throughout the country, but in many cases ambulance crews are not informed of 999 calls in their vicinity if they are on a scheduled break meaning responding crews have to be brought in from further afield, often creating a delay.
Anne-Marie said: “Ambulance crews need to take breaks and ensure they look after themselves, but if an emergency call comes in, they do need to be able to respond if they are the closest crew.
“I know the Berwick crew were distraught to discover a serious road traffic accident had occurred just minutes from where they were and as soon as they knew, they took themselves off their meal break to go and assist.
“Meetings I have held with union representatives in the months since this tragedy made me question the policy and I am indebted to the Secretary of State on behalf of all those for whom the assistance of our extraordinary paramedics could one day be the difference between life and death for a family member.
“I look forward to Dr Marsh’s findings and if any individual has experiences of system failure which they would share with us, I can feed those through to the review.”
The Secretary of State highlighted the main problem as a lack of a consistent policy across England and within ambulance trusts themselves.
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