England

East of England Ambulance aims to recruit 400 student paramedics

Ambulance Image copyright East of England Ambulance Service
Image caption The East of England Ambulance Service covers Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex

An ambulance service criticised for failing to meet performance targets is to recruit another 400 paramedics.

The East of England Ambulance Service was fined £1.2m last year over failures to reach 75% of life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes.

MPs, health watchdogs and patient groups have criticised the service.

A drive is now under way to recruit "compassionate people with a commitment to patient care" to boost operations.

More than 400 paramedics recruited last year will be fully qualified at the end of the month to work for the service covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

University courses

Some will work in rural areas where the service's performance record has been heavily criticised.

New recruit training can last up to 18 months and covers classroom work at universities in Norwich, Cambridge or Chelmsford as well as blue-light duty alongside experienced crews.

Chief executive Dr Anthony Marsh hopes hundreds more applicants would come forward.

"We have the most ambitious paramedic recruitment campaign in England," he said.

"Taking on more paramedics will help us to continue to improve the caring service we give to patients."

Student paramedics go through eight weeks of training in the classroom and three weeks of blue-light driver training before starting on the front-line.

They then receive three more weeks of classroom training in their first nine months as students.

During the 12 to 18 months which follow, studies involved a mix of classroom and practical work at the University of East Anglia or Anglia Ruskin University.

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