POLITICIANS are right to praise the excellent joint work of the emergency services over Christmas, as paramedics faced very high demand.

Firefighters are to be commended for helping South Central Ambulance Service.

And a new scheme to call on the services of military medics based at RAF Brize Norton is also welcome news.

However, such arrangements should not be allowed to become the norm.

While people in West Oxfordshire are no strangers to stories about ambulances failing to hit response time targets for urgent cases, they deserve better than a service propped up by the fire service and the armed forces, who have other vital roles.

When SCAS pledged to station extra paramedics in Witney last year on a trial basis, the move was rightly welcomed by West Oxfordshire District Council.

But ambulance managers have now admitted that although this change has been a success and will now become a permanent arrangement, it has made little difference to emergency response times outside the town.

Service managers are right to explore further measures, but rather than turning to the servicemen and women of RAF Brize Norton, they need to focus on finding ways to provide more ambulances for rural areas across Oxfordshire.

No one expects miracles but against a backdrop of declining performance, from an already poor position, sticking plaster approaches will not provide the long-term solution that is clearly needed.