Private consultancy firm paid £140k by ambulance chiefs to troubleshoot
A PRIVATE consultancy firm is being paid £140,000 by the Ambulance Service to plan for "future demand" and ensure a "motivated, healthy staff".
English company Operational Research in Health Limited - which produces 'robust planning solutions' by asking 'what if' questions - is to help paramedics prepare for pressures by "optimising resources" at a time when the service is failing to reach targets to arrive at 999 calls.
Cuts to frontline vehicles four years ago as part of a massive NHS austerity programme resulted in less crews being available on the ground across the north.
There has also been concern about the increased reliance on private ambulances such St John Ambulance and Proparamedics over the past five years after it emerged they have employed 600 times in January alone - and are costing the taxpayer around £1m a year.
Ambulance chiefs, with the approval of the Health and Social Care Board, commissioned the Berkshire-based 'experts' who are currrently carrying out work with senior ambulance staff in the north.
An ambulance spokesman confirmed: "This work will inform the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service on current and projected levels of demand and how best the Trust can ready itself to meet future growth in demand to ensure that the highest levels of clinical care are provided by an engaged, motivated and, above all, healthy staff.
"The cost for this work is approximately £140,000."