A MAJOR recruitment drive has been launched to try and find 400 student paramedics.

The East of England Ambulance Service is struggling to get to emergencies in time because it does not have enough ambulances or paramedics.

Millions of pounds are being spent on private ambulance services and the service has experienced difficulties in recruiting qualified paramedics.

It means even the most urgent emergencies are not reached as quickly as they would like as often as they would want.

Dr Anthony Marsh, the new chief executive, is hoping the new programme will help.

He said: “It is a great step forward for staff, patients and local communities.

“This programme will secure new employees for the service who will learn on the job and in the classroom.

“It is a great opportunity for anyone who has ever thought of becoming a paramedic and helping people in their community, sometimes in their greatest hour of need.

“We are aiming to recruit 400 students, and while this may be an ambitious target, it means we will have a whole lot of fully qualified paramedics on the road responding to our patients in the future. This is a great step forward for our service.”

They have already had 500 applications for the course which will take two-and-a-half years to complete.

Dr Marsh added: “This is a really exciting opportunity for people who want to work with us and who want to care for patients almost straight away.

“We will be giving students vital hands on experience throughout the course, and offer of a job at the end of it.”

As well as recruiting new students, the service is continuing to try and recruit graduate paramedics and qualified technicians and paramedics.

If you are interested in becoming a student paramedic, for further information and to apply to join EEAST visit http://www.jobs.nhs.uk/