A NORTH-EAST MP said there is something "severely wrong" with the region's ambulance service during a debate in Parliament on response times.

Between March 2015 and February 2016, North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) attended 69 per cent of the highest priority calls within eight minutes, missing the target of 75 per cent.

It is the second year in a row they have failed to reach the standard.

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Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West, led the Westminster Hall Adjournment Debate earlier today (Wednesday, May 4).

Ms Hodgson said: “We, as a country, pride ourselves on the world class NHS services that we have here, which are the envy of the world.

“That is why it is always important to highlight failures and shortcomings, when necessary, to ensure we have services that don’t fail our constituents when they need them most.

“Strains on services are part and parcel of life in the NHS, however, in recent years, we have seen many of these pressures exacerbated by the implementation of this current Government’s policies regarding the NHS.”

North Durham MP Kevan Jones said there was something "severely wrong" with the service.

He said: “I have got a particular problem with the way they treat elderly people.

“There are elderly people, in many cases with broken bones, who are in severe pain who are put down to the bottom of the queue.

“I have been anecdotally told by the fire service and the police that if you want an ambulance to arrive quickly you ring them up and you say the person has got chest pains or is unconscious.”

Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary under-secretary for the Department of Health, responded to a range of concerns from MPs from across the North-East.

She said: “Some very serious issues have been raised.

“I am extremely disappointed that colleagues have not always found the trust as responsive as they would wish.

“Ambulance services are obviously vital to the healthcare system.

“They are there to provide rapid assistance when people are in urgent need of help and rightly colleagues have put on the record their appreciation of the work done by staff across the country and on the frontline in NEAS.”

Only two services in England managed to hit the target and North-East paramedics have said cuts and over-stretched staff are to blame.

A spokesman for NEAS said there had been an increase in the number of 999 incidents that are prioritised as ‘Red’ calls, which are potentially life threatening, and had risen 21 per cent in the 12 months to March.

She said: “MPs highlighted many of the reasons for this, such as the delays in handover at hospital and the higher number of life-threatening calls we receive that are prioritised over less serious, green-category cases.

“This can sometimes result in the response to green calls being delayed that were highlighted in the debate.

“We respond to around 1,100 incidents every day and we are truly sorry for those cases where patients have a long wait.”