FUNDING for a £10million paramedic recruitment drive to turn a failing ambulance service around is yet to be agreed.

At the end of last month the East of England Ambulance Service unveiled its plans to recruit 400 student paramedics in a bit to address criticism over problems with 999 response times and staffing levels.

The first 30 of the student paramedics are expected to begin their training in June but it will take at least two and a half years to reap the benefits of the recruitment drive.

Chief executive Anthony Marsh, who also heads up the West Midlands Ambulance Service, believes the key to turning around the East service to hire more paramedics.

He said: “At the moment in the East of England half of the ambulances of don’t have a paramedic on board, they will have an emergency care assistant or two technicians.

“The clinical commissioning groups are working with the organisation and have been for weeks and will continue to work together to decide the exact extent of funding that is going to required for all of these staff.

“The commissioning groups have been very very supportive and recognise the need for additional funding, we are talking probably at least £10million.”

He has also brought forward plans to improve the ambulance fleet, which will see 200 replaced and increase the total number by about 50 to 350 by the end of the year.