HAMPSHIRE is so short of Ambulances it is affecting response times, research has shown.

In Hampshire, there are only 4.9 ambulances per 100,000 people.

That compares to 5.3 ambulances per 100,000 in the South Central Ambulance Service which covers Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

But the trust with the fastest response times in England and Wales is the South Western Ambulance Service which has 7.1 ambulances per 100,000.

Martin Tod, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Winchester, uncovered the information after making Freedom of Information requests to every ambulance trust in England and Wales.

Mr Tod discovered that the time it takes to reach people with life-threatening problems in Hampshire and the South Central region ambulance is being delayed by a lack of ambulances compared to the best performing areas.

He said: “To match the best performing parts of the country and help fix response times in rural areas, we need more ambulances.

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“It’s not rocket science. If you look at the figures across the country, it’s clear that more ambulances help you get faster response times. The south west has seven ambulances for every 100,000 people. We have five. We’d need 86 more ambulances across the region to have the same level of coverage.”

The worst hit areas are rural ones like Winchester. Although the South Central region is close to reaching three-quarters of emergencies in eight minutes, in Winchester it’s only half. And in some rural areas, only one in 10 calls are reached in time.

The worst performing ward in the Winchester district is Cheriton and Bishops Sutton ward, where only 10.5per cent of life-threatening incidents are reached in eight minutes.

In the past 12 months, South Central Ambulance Service has improved the number of people with life-threatening reached within eight minutes from 61 per cent to 72.6per cent.

Trust chairman, Neil Goulden said: “To achieve all our targets we need more ambulances, more crews and more money.”

He said the funding mechanism does not take proper account of the cost of supporting rural areas – particularly populated rural areas like Hampshire compared to relatively unpopulated areas like Dartmoor.