THE ambulance service has revealed plans to cut the number of emergency vehicles being sent to patients it claims do not need them.

The East of England Ambulance Service has started a new trial where workers receiving 999 calls not classed as emergencies do not send out paramedics.

Instead, a specially-trained member of staff asks the patients for more details about their condition and tries to steer them towards the best treatment.

The trial is part of the ambulance service’s strategy to save money by cutting the number of vehicles sent to non-emergencies.

It was revealed at the South Essex Area Forum, held by Essex County Council on Monday, where police, fire and ambulance services all revealed plans to save money in the wake of Government cuts.

More than 250,000 people dialled 999 for an ambulance in Essex in the last year, but officials believe many callers did not need one.

Bradley Lane, duties operation manager for the ambulance service, said: “Many people call 999 because they’re not sure what an emergency is.

“There is a team trained to talk to people over the phone to see what they really need – it’s often not an ambulance.”

Mr Lane said many callers would be better served by visiting their GP or using over-the-counter medicine, and just needed guidance.

Mr Lane also gave details of the service’s response times, saying staff managed to reach 78 per cent of emergency call-outs in eight minutes or less.