HALF of the ambulances covering north east Essex and Suffolk were off the road on a single day, an investigation has found.

A total of 50 per cent of the dual-staffed ambulances at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust were off the road on Monday, October 23, according to an internal email seen by the Gazette's sister paper - the East Anglian Daily Times.

When the trust was approached for comment, it said it planned for 30 per cent of the fleet being off the road at any one time and on October 23 it was 31 per cent.

However, the email suggests otherwise stating that VOR (vehicle off road) was 50 per cent that day.

Gazette: Pressure - an East of England Ambulance Service Trust ambulancePressure - an East of England Ambulance Service Trust ambulance (Image: Newsquest)

The internal email came to light after a Freedom of Information request made by the EADT revealed almost half of the region’s ambulances broke down in August; more than double the total recorded the previous month.

Our investigation continues to raise concerns about the reliability of the 500 vehicles available.

The FoI request found 212 breakdowns were recorded among the trust’s Fiat ambulances, which were introduced just four years ago as part of a £54 million deal and now make up 442 of the trust’s fleet.

The remaining 27 breakdowns were among its Mercedes ambulances, 47 of which were in the fleet before the Fiats were introduced.

This means 47.96 per cent of the fleet’s Fiat ambulances and 57.45% of the Mercedes vehicles broke down during August. 

The EEAST spokesman said: “We have nearly 500 ambulances with around 300 on the road at any given point during a day.

“In Suffolk, 94 per cent of the vehicles needed at the busiest time of the day were available last week.

“Additional vehicles have been moved to Suffolk to ensure we have improved availability.”

The spokesman also revealed a replacement programme was underway to replace ageing vehicles.

He added: “Our teams are working hard to keep our vehicles on the road and a specialist maintenance task group is continuing to make good progress with increasing vehicle availability."