The number of traditional ambulances in one of the ambulance regions is set to be halved, in a major overhaul of the 999 service. 

The decision was made at a meeting of the East of England Ambulance Service’s board last Wednesday.

A large number of traditional ambulances will be decommissioned, with the intensive care fleet size set to be reduced from 276 to 138 vehicles and replaced with more fast response cars.

These will be increased from 145 to 232 vehicles.

In addition, more patients will be treated on scene or referred to out of hours doctors, walk-in centres or pharmacists, cutting down on unnecessary hospital transportation.

Dr Pamela Chrispin, the ambulance service’s medical director, said: "Last year less than half of the calls we responded to required a double-staffed ambulance to transport patients to hospital yet we automatically sent one to the vast majority of incidents."

Emergency patients will also be sorted into categories of priority in order to tailor the response to their needs.

Dr Chrispin added: "We are now in the process of implementing a system to respond more appropriately and therefore more quickly and effectively for the benefit of our patients. 

"More in depth triage will be carried out to determine the best response, which may mean a fully-equipped rapid response vehicle staffed by a highly trained clinician, as they help us reach and treat patients quicker, or an RRV automatically backed up with further resources such as a double-staffed ambulance where there is need."

She stressed however the service had no plans to cut staff numbers.

"There are absolutely no plans to review staff as part of this process as numbers will balance out - our staff are our greatest asset so we would do nothing that would put added pressure on them," she said.


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