NHS ambulance services prior to 2006
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.
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.
- "Royal Commission on the National Health Service". Socialist Health Association. HMSO. Retrieved 12 June 2015.