Lincolnshire firefigfhters will take sick people to hospital after county wins £490,000 for a trial scheme
A £490,000 bid to launch a trial scheme where firefighters will transport ill or injured people to hospital in Lincolnshire has been granted.
The joint application by East Midlands Ambulance Service and Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue will see the existing co-responder service, which operates from 21 fire stations, extended.
While fire crews already administer first aid at emergencies, the new scheme will see firefighters take on the job of transferring patients to hospital for the first time.
Fire crews would only take patients to hospital on the advice of paramedics, who would also accompany the patient.
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But the move has sparked criticism that rural communities would be left without fire cover while patients are checked into hospital – which would take around two hours.
However, Lincolnshire's Chief Fire Officer, Dave Ramscar, said this is among the issues to be teased out and addressed in the pilot.
Last year the fire service attended more than 8,500 calls, of which 3,600 were co-responder calls.
Funding for the pilot has been confirmed by local government minister Brandon Lewis.
Known as shared blue light services, the service will be paid for though the Government’s Transformation Challenge Award budget.
The funding is part of £6.9 million awarded nationally to 18 local authorities to overhaul how they do business as part of the Government’s pledge to transform public services.
Lincolnshire County Council’s executive councillor for NHS liaison Sue Woolley said: “We’ve been working on this proposal for quite some time, so I’m delighted we’ve now been awarded the funding.
“As we live in a rural county, we need to find ways in which people can receive emergency care quickly.”
In May EMAS was fined £3.5 million for failing to get an ambulance to 95 per cent of all life-threatening emergencies in 19 minutes.
It was the third consecutive year the service has been fined