Yorkshire hiring in more private ambulances

The amount of money spent on private ambulances in Yorkshire more than tripled between 2010/11 and 2012/13. Figures from freedom of information requests show the cost increased from £500,000 to £1.8m.

Labour has warned of a risk to patient safety saying people would be stunned that "blue-light 999 services" were being privatised without proper debate. He will write to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ask for an urgent assurance about the safety and quality of all privately emergency ambulances.

People will be stunned to learn that even blue-light 999 services are being privatised without proper debate. It is proof that the Coalition sees no limits on privatisation in the NHS. They are driving the private sector into the public core of the NHS, offering up essential emergency provision to the lowest bidder. Whistleblowers have contacted Labour with concerns that even the most serious 999 calls are being handled by private ambulances without properly trained staff and equipment. This is cost-cutting privatisation at its crudest, with a real risk that patient safety will be compromised.

– Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham

On Wednesday the House of Lords will debate controversial rules which could open the health service up to more competition.

Contracts to deliver patient transport are decided locally, and should be based on what is required to meet patient demand. As we know the NHS is seeing an extra one million more patients in A&E compared to two years ago and despite the additional workload it is coping well. 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. This rank hypocrisy shows the Labour party is more concerned with playing party politics than meeting the needs of patients.

– Spokesperson for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt