Bury St Edmunds: Ambulance chiefs deny ‘risk’ claims

AMBULANCE chiefs have rejected union claims that frontline staff and vehicles will be cut and patient safety put at risk.

Unison says Government spending cuts of �50million will mean 260 posts will go at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust and that the number of vehicles delivering “emergency response services” will be reduced.

The union claims there will be a 50% reduction in the number of “transportable ambulances” available in Bury St Edmunds.

But the trust denied there would be any cuts to frontline staff or emergency-response vehicles.

Gary Applin, branch secretary for East of England Ambulance Service Unison, said: “The proposed scaling down of resources across all areas will put patients at risk.

“The trust’s own figures show in many areas, staffing levels will be below what is needed for many hours of the day.

“In rural areas, patients will wait for longer for any member of trust staff to attend in an emergency and even then it is likely that it will be a solo responder and therefore incapable of transporting them straight to hospital.”

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The trust said although it had removed a number of existing vacant posts, it had pumped �400,000 into improving services for rural patients and that more than 110 new emergency care assistants had been recruited.

Hayden Newton, chief executive of the trust, said: “The trust is changing the way it works.

“Many of the 999 calls the service receives do not need an emergency response.

“We are treating more people through a more in-depth clinical assessment over the phone so they can be referred to the correct health service or given advice – already more than 900 patients a week are being managed by our clinicians without the need for an ambulance to be sent, giving the patient a more tailored response to their needs.

“This is better for the patient, a more efficient way of working and frees up ambulances to respond to people in the local community who need them.”

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