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Single response vehicles criticised

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Ambulance staff and patients could be put at risk by a drive for single response vehicles, unions have claimed.

Unison national ambulance officer Sam Oestreicher has criticised suggestions that ambulance trusts are creating more single response vehicles in order to hit government targets for attending every incident within eight minutes. The targets, reported by the BBC this week, will come into effect from May 2008 and apply to all 10 ambulance trusts in England.

Mr Oestreicher said: ‘This is a fundamental shift in the way the ambulance service responds to emergency calls. It will affect the way a patient is treated.

‘We are worried that it could become too easy to send a single responder when what is needed is a fully equipped ambulance to treat the patient at the scene and get them safely to A and E,' he added. ‘The lone responder could also be placed at risk of attack. We need robust lone worker policies in place.’

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