Emergency workers in East Anglia are rallying round to highlight the plight of their paramedic colleagues who are operating at "dangerous" levels of cover - and are afraid to speak out.
Fire crews joined police today in raising concerns about delays in ambulance crews attending 999 call-outs and the Fire Brigades Union has said paramedics would follow suit if they were not worried for their jobs.
East Anglia FBU executive member Keith Handscomb said: "Paramedic colleagues have told us privately about their concerns but they are afraid to speak out.
"They tell us that East of England Ambulance Service is finding ever-more dubious ways to tick the boxes in trying to meet their performance targets whilst caring less about the standard of response to treat casualties."
The Essex Police Federation said on Friday that officers are having to ferry patients to hospital - using their own over-stretched resources - because cuts have resulted in ambulance delays.
Unison East of England ambulance branch's Tim Roberts said staff levels were nearing "breaking point" and if that was reached "patient safety would be endangered - it cannot not be."
Cuts had hit so hard a cyclist with a suspected broken pelvis in Loughton had to be taken to an air ambulance half a mile away in a passing removal van, he said.
Mr Handscomb said police concerns came as "no surprise."
He added: "We applaud the skills and commitment of paramedics and ambulance crews but fire crews are telling us something is going seriously wrong.
"The numbers of front-line police officers and firefighters in East Anglia are also being cut to dangerously low levels, spreading us thinner and thinner across the region.
"For those who find themselves in medical emergencies, this is a matter of life and death importance."
Mr Roberts said the ambulance service was having to cope with £50 million cuts imposed by the government - "the actions of the trust have to be seen in that context."
He said Unison was meeting its members and lobbying the service - and they have managed to mollify the impact of cuts in some areas.
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