'Lives being put at risk'

PUBLISHED: 11:34 27 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:59 26 October 2009

Lives are being put at risk by 999 cutbacks, according to disgruntled ambulance workers. Ambulance chiefs trying to reduce the service s debt have been criticised by frontline staff. One worker said patients were having to wait longer for ambulances to ar

Lives are being put at risk by 999 cutbacks, according to disgruntled ambulance workers.

Ambulance chiefs trying to reduce the service's debt have been criticised by frontline staff.

One worker said patients were having to wait longer for ambulances to arrive.

Another said morale among colleagues had hit "rock bottom".

He pointed the finger of blame at the 2006 merger into the East of England Ambulance Service.

But ambulance service bosses have refuted the claims.

The first 999 crew member said: "We are almost £1m in debt and we've been told we cannot finish the financial year in debt so the trust is trying to claw back all the time.

"We have no training or education budget and there's been a mass cull of overtime.

"There are not enough vehicles and people are having to wait longer for them.

"On top of that, we're down to the minimum stocks of drugs.

"We're also working longer shifts and it's frustrating us all.

A spokesman for the ambulance service dismissed the claims, although he said managers and staff were "working very hard to run the service as efficiently as possible and eliminate unnecessary spending".

He said: "It's taking efficiencies by management, exaggerating tenfold into something bad and using it as a stick to beat the management with."

The spokesman was unable to clarify the service's financial position.

www.whtimes24.co.uk will have updates as they happen.

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