PENDLE could become part of a new North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) project to improve response times in rural areas.

Chairwoman of NWAS Mary Whyham has promised to consider Pendle for a new pilot scheme that places Community Paramedics and Advanced First Responders in rural locations, after concerns were put to her by MP Andrew Stephenson.

In a letter to Mr Stephenson, Ms Whyham said: “East Lancashire does pose a challenge to the North West Ambulance Service due to its rurality.

Initiatives such as Community Paramedics work well in rural areas and I will give my commitment to exploring the possibility of establishing something similar in your constituency.”

Community Paramedics are experienced paramedics that are aligned to localities where there is a specific need to improve the service.

They would provide clinical leadership within Pendle and work as a member community care team to develop a local ‘Health Response Plan’.

They would also be responsible for the assessment, care, treatment, or referral of patients, operating across primary, pre-hospital and secondary care and provide a 999 response for the local community.

Project leader Steve Barnard said: “Community Paramedics would help develop resources to help patients to self-triage and self-care using patient activation; reduce 999 demands and enable patients to access other services for advice and support.

They would also respond, primarily, to life threatening calls within the local community.”

Mr Stephenson said he was regularly contacted by Pendle residents who felt let down by the service and his concerns grew after he witnessed a woman wait for half an hour for an ambulance after she fell and hit her head in Colne.

New figures, published by the Lancashire Telegraph last week, showed that during the three-month period to May, more than 160 patients with life-threatening problems waited more than 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive.

Mr Stephenson said: “We all understand that the service has been put under pressure and it is encouraging that on most targets they are holding up well.

“However, some targets are being missed and in the harder-to-reach parts of Pendle, this is a serious concern. Residents will expect to see improvement soon, therefore I welcome the commitment being shown to improve the service.”