Alston Moor to lose ambulance service after 50 years

  • Video report by Ralph Blunsom

After almost fifty years, the community ambulance which serves the town of Alston and the surrounding area high on the Cumbrian moors is coming to an end.  

The North West Ambulance Service says because of new training requirements the service which is staffed by volunteers, can't continue. Critics says the decision could cost lives because it takes too long for ordinary ambulances to reach the isolated area

The ambulance serves the two and a half thousand people who live in Alston and the tiny hamlets dotted around Alston Moor. The volunteer emergency medical technicians who staff it offer treatment to patients until ambulances arrive from larger towns and cities.

Elaine Grew from Alston Moor Parish Council told ITV Border, "We need this ambulance for our health and well-being when we are ill and it needs to get us the emergency care that we deserve as anywhere else in the towns or cities and if they take the ambulance it will take all that away from us. It will mean that people will die on the moor."

National requirements now mean all ambulance crews have to undergo full time training of eighteen months at almost a degree level. The EMTs who currently operate the service don't have that training. The North West Ambulance Service said in a statement, "it recognises the commitment of the local community team, but the reality is they are not trained to a high enough standard to be able to maintain a reliable safe operating model which puts themselves, patients and the ambulance service at risk. Because the team do not have the necessary qualifications, it is not appropriate or safe for them to operate a trust ambulance."

Supporters of the ambulance service say they're going to continue to fight to save it. Credit: ITV Border

However, supporters of the ambulance service say their campaign to save it will continue.