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Ambulance service complains of 'poorly gritted roads'

An ambulance service complained today that poorly gritted roads hindered its response to emergency calls during the heavy snowfall.

Crews from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) said that main roads in the region were not gritted properly on Saturday night.

Graham Robinson, control room manager for North East Ambulance Service, said: "Crews were telling us that the main roads had not been gritted, which was slowing down ambulances on emergency calls.

"We expect side roads not to be treated, but some of the main routes appeared to be just as bad."

The ambulance service aims to respond to 75% of life threatening calls within eight minutes.

On Saturday night the team only managed to reach 30-40% of life threatening calls within this time frame.

NEAS said it received 983 calls between 5pm on Saturday and 9am on Sunday, equivalent to what it would normally receive over a 24-hour period.

Mr Robinson said: "The adverse weather conditions meant that there were more collisions on the roads and more people were slipping over."

Volunteer services from the British Red Cross and St John Ambulance were called in to support the NEAS.