A big ambulance replacement drive is nearing its conclusion across the East of England.
The programme which began in early 2014 sees 267 emergency ambulances being replaced across six counties – including here in Hertfordshire - with 27 additional ambulances for the fleet.
By the end of next month there will be no emergency ambulance older than five years.
The huge undertaking is part of the East of the England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) six-point plan to improve patient care.
The ambulances come with a full set of new medical devices and consumables which altogether means better, more reliable transport for staff and patients with a full stock of equipment fit for purpose.
Earlier last year, 147 ambulances were introduced around the region - 120 were replacements and 27 were new ones.
Since September, another 120 replacement ambulances were purchased and the remaining 37 will be delivered into operational service by the end of next month.
Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh, who introduced the plan said: “I am delighted that the fleet modernisation programme has remained ahead of schedule.
“Our ageing fleet was a real concern amongst staff when I joined EEAST last year, but to see a new fleet under five years old with new equipment on board by the end of March is an excellent achievement.
“These new emergency ambulances will be more reliable and provide a better experience for patients and crews.
“I would like to thank our fleet and medical devices teams for their hard work getting these new vehicles on the road.”
The fleet was also well prepared for winter as they kept 16 ambulances scheduled for disposal.
Snow socks for all operational vehicles enabled them to be used in more treacherous conditions, as did windscreen protectors, snow shovels and long-handled scrapers.
Paul Henry, head of operations support said: “I am pleased to see that we have transformed our fleet over the last busy 13 months and we are moving ahead with the next ambulance and response car replacement requirements for 2015/16 and 2016/17.
“We will ensure that ambulance and car replacement is delivered in time with the trust’s agreed life cycle for ambulances and cars which is now five years and three years respectively.
“Again, all vehicles will be equipped with new medical devices to maintain the standard of devices available to patients and staff.”