60 new staff for ambulance service

But one paramedic says some will just be "drivers with first aid certificates".

A cash boost of 4 million will mean 60 new staff for the ambulance service in Beds and Herts – but one paramedic says some of the new staff will only be "drivers with first aid certificates".

The quota of new staff – 20 for the control room and 40 on the front line – will help managers meet Government targets that came into force at the beginning of this month.

These stipulate that three-quarters of the most serious category calls must be attended within eight minutes from the moment the call is connected, whereas previously it was timed from the point when the crew had the address and knew the nature of the problem.

Ambulance spokesman Gary Sanderson said: "Our key response target remains the same, only this time it really will mean eight minutes. The result will be the world's quickest-responding ambulance service."

But an insider said staff numbers were being bumped up with lower-ranking staff so that targets could be met.

They said: "They're just giving a paramedic a driver with a first aid certificate. That's not really going to help people on the street who are injured. It's all about meeting targets."

Responding to the claim, Mr Sanderson said that as far as he was aware the 40 new operational staff would be made up only of paramedics and emergency medical technicians.