Delays will come down as more staff are recruited and ambulances put on the street, East of England ambulance boss tells minister and MPs

Anthony Marsh.

Anthony Marsh. - Credit: Archant

Ambulance delays will come down as more staff are recruited and more ambulances are put on the streets, the new boss of the trust said today after a meeting with MPs and health minister Earl Howe in Westminster.

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon said he was encouraged by the meeting and that the number of constituents and paramedics getting in touch with him over concerns about the ambulance service had declined.

Mr Bacon said: 'It was a very good progress report. He has only been in place since January 1. The fact he is eager and willing to come and meet MPs and talk about the issues so early on into his tenure is encouraging.'

Anthony Marsh, who took over the running of the region's service after an overhaul of the board and executives, will now give quarterly updates to MPs who have been campaigning for improvements to the service.

Following the meeting Dr Marsh said: 'The immediate thing is that we need 400 more student paramedics. Our staff are doing a great job, working really hard in difficult circumstances, but there are not enough of them. The immediate plan is to put in place the recruitment plan for 400 new paramedics.'

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He said that it would take two years for the service to be out of the woods, and while the student paramedics would be driving ambulances in June, they would not complete training for two and a half years.

He said: 'It is important that we reduce those delays as soon as we can and then we concern ourselves with those national eight minute targets,' he added.

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Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who was at the meeting, said he was concerned about the East of England Ambulance Service Trust's budget.

He said that he had been reassured by Dr Marsh that the Trust would 'break even' if his new, planned changes were implemented. He said that Dr Marsh had explained that even after making payments for the voluntary redundancy of managers, he would still be able to recruit up to 400 additional student paramedics in the coming year and there would also be a replacement of ambulances.

He said: 'Dr Marsh was clear that none of these changes would result in front line staff forced redundancies but he does believe that management is too top heavy and, therefore, needed to be thinned out. It seems to me that in a tough budgetary climate, Dr Marsh is aiming to protect front line jobs, which is what my constituents are worried about.'

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