HUDDERSFIELD ambulances are failing to answer 999 calls in time, leaving patients waiting in life-threatening situations.
And today it was revealed how cutbacks are leaving the Kirklees service exposed, according to disillusioned paramedics on the ground.
The news comes as figures from Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) show Kirklees is consistently missing its target of responding to 75% of blue-light Category A calls within eight minutes.
In July, less than 66% were answered within the time frame, leaving people who may have suffered heart attacks, serious falls or being involved in car accidents in danger.
In May, 72% of calls were handled within eight minutes, while the figure dropped to 71% in June.
A Huddersfield paramedic, who did not want to be named, said: “Eight minutes to that person feels like eight hours.
“What the public don't realise is that we are so short of staff and ambulances, the town is being left depleted.
“Our ambulances don't just cover Huddersfield, they work in Halifax, Bradford or even Leeds.
“They often have to send crews from Dewsbury, Barnsley of Wakefield to cover Huddersfield which is what takes the time.
“Sometimes, you can be waiting 30 or up to 45 minutes for ambulances to turn up.
“To save money they have cut the service to the bone. A lot of staff are not happy with the way things are being run. It is the system that is at fault.”
He said paramedics had previously worked in pairs, which made dealing with patients quicker and easier.
Now, assistant practitioners have been introduced who cannot treat or assess patients. They are simply there to drive and support paramedics working alone.
Paul Mudd, YAS assistant director of A&E operations for Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees blamed the poor July performance on an 11% rise in the number of Kirklees ambulance calls and a reduced capacity due to staff off sick with swine flu symptoms.
He added: “Significant improvements in performance have been made during the last year.
“We are now reaching patients quicker than ever before and the public is benefiting from a better service from YAS.
“However, following an extensive recruitment programme across Yorkshire over the last 12 months, we now have additional frontline staff in Kirklees to help cope with the rising demand for ambulance assistance.
“YAS continues to work closely with the Strategic Health Authority, primary care trusts and hospitals to improve performance across Yorkshire.
“We continue to explore what additional services could be set up for the benefit of patients, such as the community paramedic scheme.”