FOUR members of the East of England Ambulance Service board have resigned.

Margaret Stockham, Paul Remington, Anne Osborn and Phil Barlow have left with immediate effect after a barrage of criticism over the trust led by Essex MP Priti Patel.

Board interim chairman Dr Geoff Harris hopes the resignations will offer a fresh start.

He said: “We must maintain our focus on continuing to drive up the service to patients, while I focus on putting a new board in place.”

Tory Ms Patel led a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday and called for the board to step down.

On Friday, the trust confirmed all its non-executive directors had agreed to leave.

A trust spokesman said: “The trust didn’t want the issue of their roles to sidetrack from the unrelenting focus on patients.”

Ms Patel said: “I welcome this overdue announcement and these resignations give the trust an opportunity to move forward. I will be meeting shortly with the trust’s chairman, Dr Geoff Harris, to discuss the future and to continue to support him to turn the trust around.”

The East of England Ambulance Service has repeatedly missed response targets.

Between April and October last year, it missed its eight minute response time target in four months and its 19-minute target in five months.

Hayden Newton, chief executive, left in October last year and Maria Ball, chairman, stepped down in March.

The trust, which covers Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, unveiled an 89- point improvement plan in May, which includes employing more medics and getting more ambulances on the road.

! A report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre has revealed the number of calls to the East of England Ambulance Service rose 70 per cent,from 543,000 in 2005 to 929,000 last year.