WORKFORCE: An ambulance trust has defended a controversial review of the organisation of staffing and services across its region.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust has reviewed staffing and service coverage based on new analysis of demand, and information about where ambulances are best stationed to reduce travel times.

Under the service review, some vehicles which currently provide full time cover will in future operate only part-time. The trust plans to cut some unfilled posts but it will recruit 140 emergency care assistants and 24 paramedics. It is also reviewing staff leave, sickness rates and considering using training to increase staff productivity.

It is also planning to use more rapid response vehicles compared to double-staffed ambulances, which it says would reflect the increasing number of patients who are treated on the scene.

The proposals have been criticised by several local papers in the East of England, which have claimed they will mean fewer round-the-clock ambulances stationed in some towns.

Unison branch secretary Gary Applin has said the plans would put patients at risk and affect the work-life balance of staff who might have to travel further to reach their workplace.

However, the trust said the changes would mean services were provided in the “the right place at the right time”.

Chief executive Hayden Newton said they were aimed at “dealing with an ever increasing number of 999 calls, making savings through more efficient working of more than £50m over five years and improving the quality of services to patients”.

“The redesign of our front line rotas is better for patients and the public as it will better match our resources to patient demand,” he said.