Managers and unions at London Ambulance Service have expressed relief after receiving an £11. 6m cash allocation from the capital's health authorities.

The service, which has the worst performance record in Britain, plans to use the investment to fund a four-year programme designed to improve its response times. LAS said it would also increase its staff numbers and make further pay increases.

The announcement has delighted both managers and union representatives following a traumatic 18 months for the trust.

It saw the shock resignation of its chief executive Michael Honey - amid complaints that senior managers were not fighting hard enough to win the money the service desperately needed.

The period also saw failures to meet response targets. A year ago crews attended 36 per cent of lifethreatening category A calls within eight minutes, a figure which last month rose to 55 per cent.

Peter Bradley, who replaced Mr Honey as chief executive, said:

'Our staff have worked incredibly hard to improve response times. . .

I know this extra money will be a tremendous boost for everyone. '

Eric Roberts, the LAS union representative, praised Mr Bradley for his work in winning the extra cash.

He told HSJ: 'It is really down to him. For too long the management thought that being proactive and asking for more money was seen as an act of failure. Peter realised the way to sort it out.

'The cash is basically a life-line for a life-saving service. It is difficult to exaggerate how important the money is. It is going to help us to do the job properly after years of chronic underfunding as well as improving conditions for staff. '

The£11. 6m boost will fund the first year of a four-year improvement programme which was devised following the biggest ever internal consultation within the LAS at the end of last year.

Along with improved pay, the money will provide an extra 120 staff for frontline ambulance crews and ambulance-control workers.

It will also fund additional fastresponse vehicles, as well as safety improvements - including safetytraining courses.

But Mr Bradley has already stressed a further£20m will still be needed for the modernisation programme to succeed.