South Central Ambulance shortage 'completely unacceptable'

South Central Ambulance
Image caption The ambulance shortage was put down to an increase in 999 calls and staffing

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) officials say they have a "completely unacceptable" ambulance shortage.

SCAS, which serves Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire, is often 12 to 15 ambulances short, according to a board report.

The shortage meant some crews had no ambulance when their shift started.

SCAS said it had launched a review into how many ambulances were needed, adding 52 new ambulances would be arriving in October.

The report put the shortage down to increasing 999 calls and a rise in staffing.

The report said: "We were often up to 12 to 15 ambulances short, meaning that some crews did not have ambulances at the start of their shifts.

"This is completely unacceptable, and we have initiated a review into how many ambulances we need in total to be sure that we can always supply our staff with the right resources."

It added to address the shortage it would also be reducing some vehicle inspections, and another 10 ambulances would be bought for April.

Paul Jefferies, SCAS assistant director of operations, told BBC Radio Berkshire there had been occasions where 45 out 370 vehicles had been unavailable.

He said: "We're highly-trained professionals, and we make sure our demand is matched by our available resource."

Earlier this year low pay was blamed for a recruitment shortfall, which was causing the ambulance service to miss its response targets for 111 calls.

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