Paramedics braced for cuts to the front line

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PARAMEDICS fear front line services will be hit after South Central Ambulance Service announced £30million in cuts over the next five years.

The service, which covers Bucks, Oxon, Berks and Hants, is having to make savings as part of a national cost-cutting drive.

It said it does not intend to make anyone redundant, and will try to find ways to protect front-line services.

But Jonathan Fox, a paramedic of 30 years’ experience and national press officer for the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, fears this may not be possible.

Mr Fox said: “It’s very difficult to reconcile the idea of £6million-a-year cuts over the next five years without there being an impact on patient services.

“I accept (the service) saying they’re not going to make anyone redundant, but what about recruitment?

“This will impact on the trust and its ability to deliver patient care.”

He said London Ambulance Service, which is facing £53million in cuts, has already had to announce redundancies and a recruitment freeze.

In a statement, the service said: “South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust can confirm that we are required, along with other NHS Trusts, to make savings.

“This will mean that we will be required to make savings of £6m per annum over the next five years. Plans for these efficiency savings are still being put together and will be released in the coming months.

“However we would like to reassure people that currently it is not our intention to make anyone redundant.

“We need to continue to improve our services for our patients, and as such are continuing to recruit to our frontline services.”