PERFORMANCE: The North East Ambulance Service is struggling to achieve emergency response targets in rural areas despite a £1.9 million investment in services, board papers show.

The trust was below target on the most urgent “red” calls for the first three months of this financial year in Northumberland, County Durham, and Redcar and Cleveland, says a performance report.

Commissioners have invested £1.9 million to improve emergency response times in rural areas but the report confirms performance has actually deteriorated in recent months.

The trust said the drop was down to increased activity and the additional pressures of the Queen’s Jubilee, Olympic torch relay and a day of poor performance caused by flash flooding in the region.

Efforts to improve performance include recruitment of extra staff, increased use of approved agency paramedics, the introduction of an urgent care desk and daily monitoring, says the report.