COUNCILLORS have criticised the ambulance service over its response to some rural emergencies.

Representatives from the North East Ambulance Service met with Haltwhistle town councillors on Monday after concerns were raised over the service.

At earlier meeting, councillors questioned the decision to send patients to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, in Cramlington, instead of the nearby Cumberland Hospital, in Carlisle.

But Barry Dews, head of operations at the North East Ambulance Service, said crews were not contracted to take patients in emergency situations to hospitals outside of the North-East region.

“Carlisle is not a hospital we take patients to because it’s not in the local area,” he said.

Coun. John Elliot added: “If we are able to communicate better by telling people where they can go, then maybe that would be better going forward.”

The response to rural locations was also criticised by Coun. David Cadwgan.

“On two separate occasions, when an incident took place we had the postcode, but the ambulance could not find us. All it needs is Ordnance Survey maps and a knowledge of grid references,” he said.

County councillor for Haltwhistle, Ian Hutchinson, added: “We have a fantastic health service here and we should be grateful for what we have got. It could be better, but it’s a case of making it better by working together.”