Page last updated at 08:12 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 09:12 UK

Ambulance provision 'being cut'


Cuts are to be made to the Ambulance Service because it needs to reduce its budget by 1.5m this year.

It's understood the number of hours ambulances are available will be reduced and some will be taken off the road.

The Service will replace the ambulances with what it calls Rapid Response Vehicles.

Unions have said it is bad news for patients, but the Ambulance Service has defended its decision.

Lily Kerr, from Unison, said her union would not be approving the plans.

"My organisation fought long and hard, both with the direct rule administration and the new devolved administration to get what we believed to be adequate ambulance cover.

"These plans actually cut right through that. It is all very well saying you're giving a rapid response vehicle, we've been there done that, and unfortunately the Ambulance Service has not learnt the lesson."

Brian McNeill, director of operations at the Ambulance Service, said they are only doing what has been asked of them.

"We're acheiving the ministers request for the efficiency savings of 3%," he said.

"But we're also able through the ministers office to invest money in the service from the comprehensive spending review so we will be able to put 2.5m in revenue into the Rapid Response Vehicles, additional coverage at weekends, we're going to pilot the use of doctors in the control room to provide advice to patients."

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