YORKSHIRE ambulance bosses have hit back against claims that staff stress and shortages could be putting patients at risk.

The GMB union claimed its members are under so much pressure to get their ambulances on the road that they cannot complete safety and equipment checks beforehand.

But ambulance bosses say they have taken on 280 additional frontline staff in the last year to help cope with the increased demand.

Jon Smith, GMB organiser, said: “The shortage of staff at Yorkshire Ambulance Service means the management is running the service by an over-reliance on overtime and by placing conflicting demands on the workforce.

“The highly professional and dedicated GMB members who work for Yorkshire Ambulance Service are coming under severe pressure from the management to cut corners on vital checks before they take their vehicles out of the base. “They are virtually being forced to work many hours of overtime which contributes to the need for haste to get the vehicles out once they come on shift.” He called on the service to increase staff levels.

Paramedics are subject to the Health Professions Council which lays down standards that they have to abide by.

Union bosses say these include making sure their ambulances are roadworthy and stocked with a full supply of drugs and equipment before going on the road and if these checks are not done properly, patients could potentially be at risk.

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: “Patients are our highest priority and we would like to reassure the public that our staff are committed to providing them with high quality clinical care.

“Over the past 18 months, the trust has recruited over 280 additional frontline staff to help us meet the growing demand for our services and effective measures are in place to support the welfare and wellbeing of all our employees.”

The spokesperson said about eight per cent of its employees belong to the GMB and it does not recognise the union for collective bargaining.