Ambulance services could merge

EAST Anglia's ambulance service could be merged with other counties under new government plans to create super-trusts, it emerged today.The government wants to halve the number of ambulance trusts in the UK but keep the same number of staff and vehicles.

EAST Anglia's ambulance service could be merged with other counties under new government plans to create super-trusts, it emerged today.

The government wants to halve the number of ambulance trusts in the UK but keep the same number of staff and vehicles.

A detailed consultation on which areas will be merged is about to begin and trusts in East Anglia say they have no idea what changes will be made yet.

Matthew Ware, spokesman for the East Anglian Ambulance Trust, which covers Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, said: "At this stage there are no definite plans whatsoever.

"The review says the new trusts should be broadly in line with Strategic Health Authority Areas and we already are so we are not expecting any huge changes."

A spokesman for the Essex Ambulance Trust said: "The mergers are obviously going to be based on what is better for patients. If it's not better for patients then it's not going to happen.

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"If it would appear we're going to get better patient care then mergers may be the way forward."

The proposals are the result of a year-long review of ambulance services commissioned by the government.

Its findings were announced at a conference of ambulance service staff in Harrogate yesterday.

Other changes being proposed include more treatment at the scene of incidents and in the home, fewer national targets for ambulance services and a more standardised system of reporting response times.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The changes will revolutionise the way ambulances deliver care across the country and build on the significant advances already made over recent years.

"Re-organisation of ambulance trusts and call-centres, and streamlining of response time targets and call categories will mean ambulances can concentrate on reaching the most urgent cases where every second counts. This will save more lives."

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