Paramedic cyclists service withdrawn

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CYCLING paramedics have been withdrawn from three Yorkshire cities after a review of services.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service said it was suspending the use of cycling paramedics in Sheffield, Leeds and Hull with staff returning to ambulance and rapid response vehicles.

The use of bicycles was seen as a way of getting paramedics to emergencies in pedestrianised or built-up areas which might otherwise be difficult to reach quickly. The ambulance service has not ruled out their return and the service will remain in York and Harrogate for the time being.

Vince Larvin, Assistant Director of A&E Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “Our priority is to respond to all emergency calls as quickly as possible and, in view of the growing and changing demand for our 999 service, we are constantly reviewing how we make use of our staff to ensure that our resources are utilised effectively.

“We are currently operating additional rapid response vehicles in the cities instead of the cycle response units to help us meet current demand more closely and ensure our patients receive the best possible care.

“The decision to take these resources out of operation is not a permanent one and shifts in patient demand will see them return as appropriate.”

The Lifecycle service was first introduced in York 10 years ago before being extended to Sheffield, Hull and Leeds. The scheme was launched in Harrogate only three months ago .

Bicycles used by paramedics are specialist mountain bikes equipped with £5,000 of medical equipment, as well as blue flashing lights and sirens.

A spokesman for the health service union Unison said he hoped the new arrangements would be only temporary, but he criticised YAS for not consulting staff or the trade unions before making the changes.

“They are not talking to us and members do not know why this is happening. It is causing confusion and we don’t agree with it,” he said.