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New £36m NHS ambulance fleet on the way to relieve pressure next winter

A fleet of new ambulances will be brought in to support frontline forces of the NHS this winter.

In an announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care, the £36.3m investment will add a massive 256 new ambulances and increase the number of double-crewed ambulances on the road, allowing staff to respond to any type of medical emergency.

Last winter was seen by many as one of the most difficult on record, with a massive 2,873 ambulance patients facing waits of over an hour before being handed over to A&E staff. One in eight ambulance handovers were delayed by more than 20 minutes, peaking at a staggering one in four on 2 January, a busy day during which 9% of handovers were late by more than an hour. Some ambulance trusts were even turning to the private sector for help due to extreme demand.

In May, a Health Foundation study found that the NHS could not afford to replace “tatty” equipment and broken-down ambulances due to funding pressures.

The new “state-of-the-art” ambulances will support services including the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, which will receive an extra 62 vehicles, and the London Ambulance Service, which will grow its fleet by a further 25 double-crewed ambulances.

Health minister Stephen Barclay said: “In some of the most worrying and vulnerable moments in our lives, dedicated ambulance staff are there; providing expert, calm and reassuring care to patients in often highly pressurised and sometimes dangerous situations.

“They are there for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so we want to make sure that in the 70th year of the NHS we’re supporting them with state-of-the-art equipment, meaning they can provide a better service to patients.”

Extra funding will also be given to “make ready” hubs at ambulance trust bases, allowing the vehicles to be restocked, refuelled, and cleaned to allow for faster response times to emergencies.

The medical director for acute care at NHS England, Professor Keith Willett, said: “We welcome this additional funding, which will allow ambulance trusts to begin to invest in new fleets and infrastructure ahead of this winter, when we know they will once again come under pressure.”

Willett added that the investment would help improve the quality of service and patient outcomes.

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