THE Isle of Wight Ambulance service could start working more closely with mainland crews — although health bosses insist it is not part of a takeover.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust and South Central Ambulance Service will be exploring a number of opportunities to collaborate in common areas.

Staff may be transferred between the Island and the mainland to share skills and experience.

Both services already work with a range of partners, including the police, fire and rescue services and the coastguard.

Ambulance advisor to the Isle of Wight NHS trust board, Bob Williams, said greater collaboration with the mainland would help Island crews with strategic direction, practical support and safeguarding the service for the future.

Opportunities to work together in 999, NHS 111 and integrated care and patient transport services, where both organisations share common challenges, will be an immediate focus.

Mr Williams said: “Staff working here have a very specific set of circumstances and it may be beneficial for our staff to go to the mainland.”

He said the collaboration was not a merger and Isle of Wight teams would retain their own identity.

“It will ensure the Isle of Wight gets specific support and guidance so the Island does not get left behind on national items,” he said.

A new computer aided despatch programme will be implemented for crews on October 9, which will filter calls into four categories — life-threatening, emergency standard, urgent and non-urgent. The move will bring the Isle of Wight in line with mainland standards.