THE ambulance trust that serves south-east Hampshire should look at recruiting former service personnel in order to reduce the shortfall in paramedics, according to an MP.
Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, also said that South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) should entice people to work in the area by providing housing.
It comes as Scas is still battling with 275 clinical vacancies and 70 vacancies for emergency care assistants, despite hiring 77 additional paramedics since April last year.
It has more spaces than neighbouring South Western Ambulance Service, which has 53 clinical vacancies, and South East Coast Ambulance Service, which has 48.
Mr Hancock said: ‘Scas should look at recruiting retired service personnel for the paramedic posts.
‘Many of them will have medical training and most retire from the services at the age of 40.
‘It means they still have 20-plus years that they could work.
‘The other problem is the cost of living, as it is more expensive to rent in the south, and buying property can be astronomical.
‘I think the trust should try and offer something in the way of housing to encourage more people to move to the area.’
Scas said it is in the middle of a recruitment drive, which includes taking paramedics on from Poland, and training people here.
A Scas spokesman said: ‘We constantly review our processes, resources, and workforce numbers to improve the services we deliver for patients against a background of increasing demand.
‘We are increasing the numbers of our staff who are being trained as paramedics as well as increasing the number of graduate paramedics that we are able to employ.
‘We have been carrying out some recruitment in Poland for qualified paramedics where their qualifications, skills and experience are very similar to our own and meet our own high standards for staff.
‘We mitigate the impact of our own staff shortages by employing private ambulance providers to ensure we maintain our service delivery to patients in addition to our own Scas staff, and we prioritise all our calls.’