Shortages of paramedics and rising demand means that the NHS is spending almost £80m a year hiring private ambulances to answer 999 calls, figures show.
England’s 10 NHS ambulance trusts to spend £78.4m in 2016-17 on help from non-NHS providers to supplement their own services, down from £79.7m in 2015-16 up from £64.2m in 2014-15.
The trust that spent the most on private services last year was South Central ambulance – £16.3m, up from its £13.6m the year before and £12.3m in 2014-15.
The news prompted fears that ambulances supplied by profit-driven firms may provide a lower standard of care when compared to NHS crews.
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