ONE hundred and thirty-three posts are being axed by East Lancashire’s ambulance chiefs as part of a £13.4 million savings programme.

Union chiefs say the lost positions for North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust have been achieved without the need for compulsory redundancies.

But Unison leaders have warned that yet further cuts are expected for paramedics in future years due to constraints being placed on the NHS by the government.

Trust bosses have rubberstamped a cost-cutting exercise across NWAS, with the majority of losses being incurred by the passenger transport service.

Under a cost improvement programme, the PTS section is being reduced by the equivalent of 33 full-time posts.

Around 22 of these will be lost at ambulance control due to the introduction of a new automatic vehicle licensing system which enables ambulance to be tracked more efficiently.

Another 48 positions are being shed because of a reduction in demand for the PTS service, which picks up and drops off patients for non-emergency appointments.

Craig Wilde, Unison branch secretary for NWAS, said: “All of the people who were at risk of redundancy were offered alternative employment on the emergency or paramedic side of the service.

“Much of the reduction has been achieved through natural wastage, such as people taking early retirement or voluntary redundancy.

“Financial constraints have been placed on the trust this year and it is a sign of the times. We are expecting it to get worse next year.”