East Midlands Ambulance Service is set to spend £1 million to retain private ambulance services in order to meet “unprecedented demand”.
The service currently uses 28 private crews alongside its own each day, but had planned to cut the use down to zero by the end of January.
However, the trust now plans to retain the crews beyond the end of the month.
Mike Naylor, director of finance at EMAS, said in a report to the organisation’s board that the planned staffing was “insufficient” to meet demand.
“To reduce the risk of harm to patients given the unprecedented increase in demand, the trust executive is requesting the extension of the existing levels of PAS provision,” he said.
“Unfortunately, although this extension will improve response times it will not ensure universal achievement of Ambulance Response Programme standards.”
The trust will now spend £1 million to keep the private ambulance crews until the end of March.
Last week, EMAS revealed that it received 1,021 calls within the first seven hours of 2020.
The number is equivalent to a 999 call being taken every 20 seconds during the busiest hours.
By 3am, control rooms had taken almost 600 emergency and urgent calls – a figure not normally reached until at least 9am even on busy days.
EMAS expects activity levels to remain high through January and February.
The service has said that during busy periods it will prioritise the most serious cases, advising other callers that they will need to wait until resources become available.