The number of private ambulances used in England Ambulance Trust for 999 call-outs has jumped since 2018 and the cost spent on the private vehicles has jumped from £90,862,230 to £92,476,915
Private ambulances were sent to 26,428 incidents in 2018-19, up from 12,947 the previous year. They were mainly used for overtime and spikes in demand.
The areas spending more included South Central, East Midlands and Yorkshire. They used private ambulance services so that they can respond to patients as quickly as possible.
The private ambulances were used “to fill gaps in budgeted capacity whilst student paramedics complete their university studies and whilst we fill vacancies. Those spending less were the North West and South Western ambulance services.
The NHS union Unison said the cost for private ambulance hire was “siphoning tens of millions from squeezed NHS budgets that would be better spent elsewhere”.
It said more investment was needed to address staff shortages and “stem the flow of departures from the ambulance service”.
The Independent Ambulance Association (IAA) said support provided by independent ambulance providers to NHS ambulance trusts was “vital”.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said it was investing more than £36m for trusts to buy 256 new vehicles.