Ambulance service savings plan ‘could affect patient care’

SAVING South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust needs to save cash
SAVING South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust needs to save cash
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PATIENT groups and unions say safety could be put at risk as the ambulance service plans to make millions of pounds worth of savings.

The concerns came after South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust confirmed plans – previously revealed in The News – to make £6m worth of savings this financial year.

The trust is also planning to make similar savings each year for the next five years to strip £30m from its budget.

But many are worried about the implications this will have on patient care.

Jock McLees, the chairman of the Portsmouth Local Involvement Network, the city’s patient group, said: ‘Of course we’re worried about these savings plans.

‘I don’t think we are seeing patient safety is yet being affected, but we must be getting to the point where it will be soon.’

The ambulance service says it does not plan to make redundancies to make the savings.

But unions, who are set to meet with ambulance bosses, say they have doubts as ambulance trusts elsewhere in the country which have to make similar savings are axing jobs.

Jonathan Fox, from APAP, the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, said: ‘I just don’t see how they’re going to make these savings without job cuts or it affecting the frontline staff. I also cannot see how that amount of savings will not impact on patient care.

‘This trust is a very high-performing trust but their calls are above the national average. Last year their demand had risen by 15 per cent, when the national average was five per cent. How can the trust carry on performing well and meeting targets if these savings have to be made?’

Meanwhile a spokeswoman for the ambulance service has assured the public the service will not change for the worse.

Michelle Ullett, from SCAS, said: ‘It is important to say that members of the public will not see any changes in the services they receive.’

As reported, NHS trusts across our area have to collectively make more than £150m worth of savings this year alone as part of national plans to reduce spending in the health service.