London Ambulance Service trust has accepted that the breakdown of the mobile network and the configuration of its radio system led to 'communications difficulties' that hampered the NHS response to the bombings in London on 7 July last year.

London Ambulance Service trust has accepted that the breakdown of the mobile network and the configuration of its radio system led to 'communications difficulties' that hampered the NHS response to the bombings in London on 7 July last year.

The trust said it will be 'taking seriously' the findings of the London Assembly's review of the emergency response to the terrorist attacks in London, published on Monday.

The report found that the trust's 'over-reliance' on mobile phones to communicate with crews, the control room and hospitals caused 'major communications problems' on 7 July.

The phone networks were crippled by a massive surge in public demand, leading to hospitals being forced to get updates on numbers of casualties from TV news reports.

While taking care to praise the overall efforts of the emergency services on the day, the report criticises those in charge of emergency preparedness for failing to recognise the danger of relying on public phone networks. Committee chair Richard Barnes said the network congestion 'ought to have been predictable'.

'It happens every year on New Year's Eve,' he commented.

The trust accepted the criticisms over mobile phones and also acknowledged that its radio system was inadequate to cope with communications demands on 7 July.

LAS chief executive Peter Bradley told HSJ the trust is expecting delivery of 200 digital radio handsets next week, which will provide a 'solid communications backbone' should another major incident take place in London.

The trust is expecting to have full roll-out of the repeatedly delayed digital radio system Airwave by next May, ahead of the government's commitment to the end of 2007.

The assembly report also said there would be ?no excuse? for London Underground failing to install facilities which would allow digital radios to work underground by the end of 2007.

It warned: 'It is unacceptable in the 21st century for the emergency services to have to rely upon runners to gain and exchange information,' given that recommendations for an underground communication system were made after the Kings Cross fire 18 years ago.

The government announced it had signed a contract for national provision of digital radio systems for ambulance trusts two weeks after the 7 July attacks, and a week after HSJ reported that it had originally promised roll-out 'during 2004'.

Mr Bradley said LAS accepted most of the committee's recommendations apart from its call for the trust to make use of hospitals closer to the scene even if they did not have accident and emergency facilities, given the role that Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children trust played in rescue efforts.

'We would have to be cautious about taking patients to a hospital without A&E facilities and our present policy is not to do that for obvious reasons,' said Mr Bradley.

Meanwhile, London NHS head of emergency planning Julie Dent has criticised the inquiry for failing to call her to give evidence. Mr Barnes said she could have contributed if she had contacted them.