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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK
Three ambulance services to merge
Three ambulance services in the eastern region are to merge from this weekend to form the largest trust in England.

The merger of East Anglian Ambulance, Essex Ambulance and the Beds and Herts Ambulance services will provide services to about six million people.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust will cover Beds, Cambs, Essex, Herts, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Chief executive Dr Chris Carney said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for everyone to create something new."

We are very lucky in this area to have three successful trusts
Dr Chris Carney, chief executive

"Local identity is of great importance but at the same time we must take advantage of it being a new and very large organisation that can benefit from new-found purchasing power and better support infrastructure.

"We are very lucky in this area to have three successful trusts.

"Each has pioneered work in areas such as pre-hospital thrombolysis for heart attack patients, the use of emergency care practitioners, and the provision of out of hours doctors services," he said.

The trust said there were no immediate plans to reduce the number of ambulance dispatch centres from their current three locations in Bedford, Chelmsford and Norwich.

However, an appraisal of longer term options will be undertaken.

Under the new organisation, which starts running on Saturday, more patients will be treated in the community with a potential reduction in unnecessary visits to A&E.




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