HEALTH chiefs are using ambulances run by a private company to answer 999 calls in Yorkshire.
Yesterday it was confirmed that a company has been brought in to help to deal with emergency calls at times of high demand.
The Yorkshire Post understands that the ambulances have been used at various locations across the region at peak times such as Friday and Saturday nights as and when they are needed to help to deal with busy periods.
Bosses at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) have confirmed they are using the vehicles from North of England Ambulance Service.
David Williams, director of operations at the ambulance service, said: “On occasions, such as at times of high demand for our 999 service, our own staff and vehicles can be temporarily supported by a private ambulance service to ensure we provide timely, high-quality care to people in Yorkshire.
“This is common practice amongst ambulance services throughout the country.
“The organisation we are currently working with is registered with the Care Quality Commission, the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England.”
Health chiefs are keen to stress that the private firm is only being used intermittently, in line with demand.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service has around 500 of its own A&E vehicles, including ambulances and rapid response vehicles.
A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said a “handful” of vehicles were being used and said occasionally up to four private ambulances had been used in the Leeds and Bradford area.
YAS has come under previously come under fire for its 999 response times but it has improved in the past 18 months following millions of pounds of investment by health chiefs, although significant variations remain across the region with paramedics struggling to meet a target of reaching casualties in 75 per cent of emergency cases within eight minutes mainly in rural locations, in particular in North Yorkshire.
The Yorkshire Post revealed last month that growing pressures on hospitals are leading to lengthening turnaround times for ambulances delivering casualties.