Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 16:20 UK

Ambulances hit by high fuel costs

An ambulance service is looking at ways to cut costs as its vehicle fuel bill threatens to go almost 1m in the red.

The East of England Ambulance Service runs a fleet of 273 ambulances, 215 response cars, 237 non-emergency vehicles and 25 major incident units.

The service covers Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and said it had asked primary care trusts for more funding.

The service said if fuel costs stay the same it will face a 900,000 overspend.

If this happens, the service said it would have to find ways to cut costs.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said this would mean "cutting down on non-essential meetings which not only saves travel costs but also means overtime payments are avoided for people covering absent staff".

He added the service would also "tighten up on expenditure all round so the front line ambulance service is not effected".

It is estimated that a full tank of diesel for a front-line ambulance costs nearly 120.

The heavy weight of a fully-laden vehicle and the frequent requirement to travel at high speed is adding to the cost of fuel as oil prices continue to rise.

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