Spending on private ambulances hits £1.8m

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Almost £2 million was spent on private contractors by South Yorkshire’s ambulance service last year, according to new figures.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Yorkshire Ambulance Service spent £1.8m on private vehicles and crews in 2012-13 - up £1.3m on the previous 12 months. The figures were obtained by the Labour Party.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham called the use of private ambulances ‘a risk to patient safety’.

But a spokesman for health secretary Jeremy Hunt accused Labour of ‘rank hypocrisy’, adding: “Using a variety of healthcare providers to deliver patient transport services is a system which was started under the last Labour government but is an approach they now criticise.”

A spokesman for the Independent Ambulance Association said private ambulances were regulated by the Care Quality Commission, and must comply with the same rules as NHS services. Yorkshire Ambulance Service spent £500,000 on private contractors in 2010-11.