HEALTH bosses want a skilled paramedic on board every ambulance and rapid response vehicle to help save lives.

Ambulance chiefs plan to increase the proportion of paramedics to 70 per cent of frontline staff from about 50 per cent so there would be at least one for every ambulance and response vehicle.

No timetable has yet been revealed for when the 70 per cent figure will be achieved but leaders aim to boost the proportion of paramedics from 54.5 per cent to 57 per cent during the next financial year (2011/12) which would involve increasing the number of paramedics from 1,093 to 1,160.

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust is aiming to become a foundation trust by 2013 which would give it more freedom and independence from the Government, allowing it to accelerate the plan, a health chief has said.

Peter Murtagh, the trust’s strategic planning and commissioning director, told members of Worcestershire County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee: “We believe by having these freedoms we can accelerate improvements.

“We want to make sure there is a paramedic in every ambulance.

"We want to increase the paramedic skill mix. Irrespective of what vehicle we have we will have a paramedic on it so we will be able to dispense fewer vehicles per incident.”

The change would mean more paramedics on board rather than fewer skilled emergency care assistants and ambulance technicians to handle 999 calls.

The trust has 270 ambulances and 120 rapid response cars, all of which would have a paramedic on board if the trust achieves its goal.

The changes will also involve reducing the number of patients to hospital by 200,000 over the next five years by using what Mr Murtagh called “alternative care pathways” and care in the community and closer to home.

For example emergency care practitioners can carry out some basic procedures at home so patients do not have to be taken to hospital.