Ambulance watch: Paramedics attack 999 chiefs over rise in spending on their lease cars

Spending by the region's under fire ambulance service on new cars for their managers has rocketed in the last three years, despite the trust's budget being squeezed.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has increased its spending on lease cars for managers with no medical role by 30pc since 2009.

The leap in spending on non-medical staff comes as the trust seeks to save �50m over the next five years.

But a spokesman for the EEAST said it was cheaper for the trust to spend money on lease cars than foot the bill for mileage claimed by managers driving their own vehicles.

Figures obtained by the EDP through a Freedom of Information request show the service spent taxpayers' cash on 60 cars under lease for their non-medical managers.

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The trust spent �151,755 on lease vehicles for their managers in 2011/12 – a rise of 26pc on last year and 30pc the year before.

One paramedic, who did not wish to be named, said: 'It is just a bugbear for everyone... It affects morale. When they are tucked up at night with their expensive cars in the driveway, we are running around in our old response vehicles. It is very galling.'

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The paramedic claimed that some of the Honda CR-Vs, used by the service as rapid response vehicles, had more than 250,000 miles on the clock.

Gary Applin, Unison branch secretary for the EEAST, said: 'Any increase in the costs of providing a service to staff which will not directly have an influence on improving patient care is very worrying.'

But the trust said the increase in spending helped them save money and they had encouraged more non-medical managers to use lease cars.

In 2009, 48 cars were under lease, rising to 54 the following year and 60 cars in 2011/12.

The spokesman said the vehicles were only authorised when the cost to the trust was less than a manager using their own car for work.

She said that under government-set rates, managers were entitled to much higher mileage claims for private cars than lease cars.

'While the cost of lease cars in recent years may have risen slightly this will be set against the cost to the trust for those individual users decreasing overall as less private mileage is claimed. Managers are being encouraged to take the cheaper option, which is also safer for the trust, and we are pleased this is being demonstrated by these figures which still only represent 1.5pc of the workforce.'

The trust pays its managers 44p a mile for driving their own car for work, but 15p a mile for a lease car.

'There is a fixed allowance which the trust pays and the remainder of the lease car cost is incurred by the user,' she said.

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