NHS ambulance services prior to 2006

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The National Health Service Act 1946 gave county (and county borough) councils a statutory responsibility to provide an emergency ambulance service, although they could contract a voluntary ambulance service to provide this.

In 1977/78 ambulance services in the UK cost about £138m. At that time about 90% of the work was transporting patients to and from hospitals.

The Regional Ambulance Officers’ Committee reported in 1979 that “There was considerable local variation in the quality of the service provided, particularly in relation to vehicles, staff and equipment. Most Services were administered by Local Authorities through their Medical Officer of Health and his Ambulance Officer, a few were under the aegis of the Fire Service, whilst others relied upon agency methods for the provision of part or all of their services.”

The 142 existing ambulance services in England and Wales were transferred by the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973 from local authority to central government control in 1974, and consolidated into 53 services under regional or area health authorities.[1]

In Northern Ireland the service was the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Hospitals Authority before 1974, and was then transferred to the four health and social services boards.

Under the provisions of the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 England was covered by 31 ambulance trusts, which were structured as below. In July 2006 the number of ambulance service trusts was reduced to thirteen. For the current trusts, see Emergency medical services in the United Kingdom.

Ambulance service Metropolitan and Non-Metropolitan counties covered
Avon Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Luton
Coventry and Warwickshire Coventry, Warwickshire
Cumbria Cumbria
Dorset Bournemouth, Dorset, Poole
East Anglian Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Peterborough, Suffolk
East Midlands Derby, Derbyshire, Leicester, Leicestershire, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Rutland
Essex Essex, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock
Gloucestershire Gloucestershire
Greater Manchester Greater Manchester
Hampshire Hampshire, Portsmouth, Southampton
Hereford and Worcester Herefordshire, Worcestershire
Isle of Wight Isle of Wight
Kent Kent, Medway
Lancashire Blackpool, Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire
Lincolnshire Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, North East Lincolnshire
London Greater London
Mersey Merseyside, Cheshire, Halton, Warrington
North East Darlington, County Durham, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear
Oxfordshire Oxfordshire
Royal Berkshire Berkshire
South Yorkshire South Yorkshire
Staffordshire Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent
Surrey Surrey
Sussex Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex
Tees, East and North Yorkshire East Riding of Yorkshire, Kingston upon Hull, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, North Yorkshire (excl. Craven), York
Two Shires Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Northamptonshire
West Midlands Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, West Midlands less Coventry
West Yorkshire Metropolitan West Yorkshire, Craven district of North Yorkshire
Westcountry Cornwall, Devon, Plymouth, Somerset, Torbay
Wiltshire Wiltshire, Swindon

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Royal Commission on the National Health Service". Socialist Health Association. HMSO. Retrieved 12 June 2015.