England

South Central Ambulance trust £30m cuts talks extended

South Central Ambulance Service has extended a 90-day consultation with staff over ways it can save £30m while protecting front-line services.

Bosses have said they will look at every area of spending, including management overheads, the cost of the ambulance fleet and buildings.

The £30m of savings needed over the next five years represents 4.4% of the ambulance trust's budget.

Staff now have an extra three weeks, until 22 July, to respond.

Decisions over how to make the budget cuts will then be taken at the end of July.

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) NHS Trust covers a population of four million people in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

A trust spokesperson said a series of focus groups had been used to "assist" the trust in developing a set of proposals that would achieve the savings.

A proposal paper was published on 31 March, which formed the basis of the staff consultation from 31 March to 30 June 2011.

'Good value'

The spokesperson said: "SCAS is charged with saving £30m over the next five years, representing around 4.4% of our budget, while continuing to protect front-line resources and patient care.

"To achieve these aims we need to look at every area of our spend: management and corporate overheads, fleet, non pay, estates etc. and to ensure that they are delivering good value for money when compared to other ambulance services."

Last week, NHS figures showed the ambulance trust was the best performing in England in terms of response times.

The data showed how many life-threatening calls were responded to within eight minutes.

In 2010-11, South Central's category A response rate came top with 77.5%. The average was 74.9%.

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