The Evening Gazette report:

CALLOUTS to patients attended by private ambulance providers have more than doubled in three years.

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), which runs services covering Teesside, paid private providers £754,000 to answer 13,562 calls in the 12 months to this April.

The total compares with a payout of £477,000 to answer 6,390 calls in 2010/11.

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