Union claims ambulance staff and vehicle reductions could put patients at risk

A UNION says plans to reduce the number of staff and vehicles delivering emergency response services will put patients at risk.

Examples given by Unison include a 50 per cent reduction in double staffed ambulances in Ely.

However the ambulance service claim improved working will mean 110 new emergency care assistants will be recruited across the region and up to 10 more paramedics for Cambridgeshire.

Unison say the East of England Ambulance Service plans will mean patients in rural areas will wait longer for a response in an emergency, and even then it will be likely to be a solo responder incapable of transporting patients to hospital.

The union says the service has held a number of vacancies empty and has already removed 110 posts and intends to remove up to a further 150 posts but these have not been confirmed.

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Although there are no ambulance stations closing as a direct result of these changes, the union says they will result in there being fewer or no ambulances capable of transporting patients at several stations across all counties within the region at certain times of the day and night.

Gary Applin of Unison said: “The proposed scaling down of resources across all areas will put patients at risk”

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The East of England Ambulance Service said it was not making any front line staff redundant and it was making changes to the way it works because of three challenges: an ever increasing number of 999 calls, making savings through more efficient working of more than �50million over five years and improving the quality of services to patients.

Improved working had allowed it to remove a number of existing vacant posts and it will be putting some of the remaining vacant posts back into rural areas at a cost of �400,000. The service says “the nature of demand is changing”.

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