AN extra 100 or more staff are being recruited in Lancashire as part of a recovery plan to help NHS bosses achieve ambulance performance targets.

And North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) bosses have not ruled out going as far as Finland and Poland to staff an additional 42 emergency vehicles being added to their fleet.

Medics failed to hit arrival targets for 999 emergencies throughout January, and slow turnaround times at district general hospitals were blamed by the North West Ambulance Service.

Nineteen-minute turnarounds are recorded at the Royal Blackburn Hospital, but the figure for Chorley is over 20 minutes and Blackpool Victoria is nearly 21-and-a-half minutes.

No fewer than 436 staff are being recruited by the NHS trust before April 30, as an additional 20 frontline ambulance and 22 rapid response vehicles hit the region’s roads before the end of the financial year.

Four new ambulances and three rapid response vehicles have been identified for Lancashire.

Under the recruitment drive, 225 care assistants, 135 paramedics, 56 emergency medical technicians and 20 assistant operations managers will eventually swell their ranks.

In Lancashire the ambulance trust only responded to 67.3 per cent of calls for heart attacks and respiratory failure callouts within eight minutes, and 62.7 per cent for all other 999 calls, against targets for each of 75 per cent.

The combined response target for both kinds of calls, of answering them within 19 minutes, was only reached 87.3 per cent of the time, rather than 95 per cent.

County performance figures are broadly echoed for the rest of the north-west but there has been a 40 per cent spike in call volumes.

Sarah Faulkner, the trust’s quality director, said: “The biggest single contributing factor to NWAS missing performance for all three standards for January 2016 has been the increase in turnaround time.”

This represents an equivalent of nine ambulances being off the road for an entire week in Lancashire and Cumbria, and nearly 12 and 15 for Greater Manchester.

Later an NWAS spokesman added: “The trust is experiencing a significant and sustained increase in demand for its services and in anticipation of the additional response has been deploying new vehicles across the north west in specific areas identified as in most need of the extra resource.”