Ambulance cuts 'will affect the front line'

A leading union representing paramedics warned yesterday that the closure of ambulance stations to meet NHS cost-cutting would inevitably have an impact on frontline services and staff. Simon Jones of the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel said a review under way in Greater Manchester, which has left the future of half the region's stations in doubt, could result in crews spending more time travelling to restock drugs and medical equipment or taking breaks.

He said: "We don't agree with spending cuts but if you are going to do it, it should be done in a proportionate way. It is not proportionate to cut ambulance stations and such premises."

The North West Ambulance Service is considering a scheme to close, merge, relocate or repair 17 of its 35 stations, part of an effort to save £10m a year over the next three years from a £250m budget.