A trade union has said that the NHS are spending more than £1 million a week hiring private ambulances for emergency calls as a result of the government having “failed to invest long term.”
The figures are based on responses from two thirds of ambulance trust across England who are paying for the hiring of private ambulances.
Unison warned spending tens of millions of pounds on private 999 cover is a “short-term fix, not a long-term solution to the crisis in ambulance services.”
Speaking ahead of the union’s annual health conference in Bournemouth, Unison’s head of health Sara Gorton said, “This spend on private 999 services shows a lack of long-term planning and is a shocking waste of money.
“It’s nothing more than a sticking-plaster solution.
“Ambulance services are in a desperate state because the Government has failed to invest long term.
“Patients are waiting ages for help to arrive or worse still dying before crews can reach them.
“Others are stuck in emergency vehicles outside hospitals for hours and hours on end waiting for a bed.
“This is a crisis of the Government’s own making that can only be resolved with a long-term plan.
“Ministers must step up and come up with proper funding to tackle increasing demand and pay staff properly.”