NHS ambulance services across England are now spending close to double what they were in 2012 on private ambulances, with parts of the country seeing a ten-fold increase.
Labour Freedom of Information requests to all ambulance trusts reveals an increase of 82% between 2011/12 and 2013/14 – from £37 million to £67.5 million last year.
In Yorkshire, spending more than quadrupled from £782,344 to hit £3.56 million.
Over the same period, average ambulance response times – the period between a logged call and the vehicle’s arrival – increased by nearly a minute.
In cases where a life is threatened, the vehicle should arrive within eight minutes. The average ambulance in Yorkshire takes 5 minutes 56 seconds to reach callers – 43 seconds longer than in August 2011.
Meanwhile, the South Western and West Midlands services, which saw their levels of spending slightly fall, saw response times only increase by a relatively small amount of time.
Mary Creagh said:
“These figures show just how quickly our local NHS is changing under David Cameron. Blue-light ambulance services have traditionally been considered part of the public core of the NHS.
“When people dial 999, they expect an NHS ambulance crew to turn up. People in Wakefield have never been asked whether they think ambulances should be run by private companies. Before this goes any further, the public should have their say.”