AMBULANCE 999 calls in Lancashire could be routed across the North West as part of a major control room shake-up.

East Lancashire 999 calls to the newly-created North West Ambulance Service are currently routed to the main county control room at Broughton, near Preston.

But now calls will instead be sent to the next available operator - a move which has been criticised by the Association of Profess-ional Ambulance Pers-onnel (APAP).

This could mean control rooms at Whitefield in Manchester and Elm House, in Anfield, Liverpool, handling Lanc-ashire calls.

While people could get through to an operator more quickly, it has raised concerns people without local knowledge will be dealing with calls. Jonathan Fox, APAP spokesman said the control room system relied upon local knowledge to work efficiently.

He said: "We rely on the local knowledge of control room call-takers to enable ambulances to respond to 999 calls as speedily as possible."

He urged the service to consult more with frontline staff on the controversial proposals.

NWAS was created last year out of a merger between ambulance services for Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manch-ester and Cheshire and Merseyside.

Bosses have now launched a review of its control rooms and put forward several proposals.

They say the emphasis will be on achieving higher performance targets. Ambulance services are measured against an eight-minute response time for the most urgent callouts.

Once the new control room structure is in place 999 calls will be routed to the first available operator within five seconds. If no operator is available within 10 seconds then a rapid response vehicle will automatically be dispatched to the address' generated by the incoming call.