AN ex-ambulance boss has claimed hundreds of cardiac arrest patients could be dying unnecessarily due to delays in paramedics getting to the scene.

North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is performing fewer resuscitation attempts than almost every other ambulance trust in England, according to figures highlighted by former Staffordshire ambulance chief Roger Thayne.

He has called for an inquiry into why some trusts are performing better than others – claiming crews in England should be saving 2,500 more lives each year.

Earlier this year the Lancashire Telegraph revealed how NWAS failed to meet the eight-minute response target for cardiac arrest cases, in more than half the wards in East Lancashire over a six-month period last year.

Mr Thayne said: “We have an NHS which should be as good in any part of the country and we should not have a postcode lottery in terms of this very acute condition, the cardiac arrest.

“I estimate that we should be saving twice as many lives a year. It's absolutely frightening and totally unnecessary.”

NWAS crews made 484 resuscitation attempts per million head of population in 2011/12, and ranked the second lowest of 12 trusts. South Western crews made the most attempts with 848 per million and South Central the fewest with 243.

Mr Thayne said the way the NHS publishes the data was ‘misleading’, as it highlights survival rates rather than resuscitation attempts.

South Central has the highest survival rate at 16 per cent, compared to eight per cent in the South West.

The survival rate in the North West was seven per cent.

NWAS medical director Kevin Mackway-Jones said: “We cannot comment on Mr Thayne’s claims without a better understanding as to how he has analysed the data provided.

“As a trust we follow internationally recognised resuscitation guidelines. The latest Ambulance Clinical Quality Indicators for Cardiac Arrest management ranked NWAS as the third highest performing ambulance service in the country.”