East of England Ambulance bases upgraded 'to save crew time'
Three ambulance stations have been upgraded in a move which could save crews 20 minutes per shift in handovers and restocking, it is claimed.
East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) bases in Chelmsford, Southend and Stevenage have been modernised to speed up turnover times.
It was paid for using part of a £6.5m package from the Department of Health and Social Care, awarded last year.
The NHS service said the upgrade would "keep more ambulances on the road".
Paul Henry, the service's deputy director of operations support, said more technical staff would be recruited to restock and clean vehicles, as well as carry out servicing and repairs - before the improvements would take effect.
"If we save 20 minutes every shift in preparing our ambulances, that's 20 minutes per ambulance, per shift, per day, per week, per year available to patients," he said.
The bases will house the trust's new "24/7 make ready service" which aims to take the pressure off emergency medical crews on the frontline, he said.
The upgrades include the addition of workshops for in-house maintenance and servicing, and improved restocking facilities.
"This is a significant project which will bring huge benefits," Mr Henry said.
"Our specialist 'make ready' teams will ensure our vehicle preparation will be second to none and consistent across the whole Trust.
"Patients won't see any of the hard work carried out by these dedicated teams behind the scenes, but will reap the benefits when our ambulances hit the road."
Two further "make ready and fleet hubs", at Peterborough and at Waveney in Suffolk, are due for completion this autumn, with more depots and maintenance sites to follow next year, he said.