DESPERATE paramedics are convinced the cuts will cost lives – and the increased pressure on them has already led to hostility from the public.

Ambulance workers say they are ashamed of a growing number of incidents across Essex which have left people waiting up to an hour – or more – for paramedics to arrive.

In some cases, relatives have had to step in to resuscitate stricken family members.

They claim the current poor service is down to staff not being replaced – and they fear the situation will only get worse with the number of ambulances providing cover across Essex being slashed again this autumn.

Paramedics say their working conditions are so bad they: l Face regular aggression from angry patients fed up with delays l Take just one 30-minute break during a 12-hour shift l Face having their holidays cancelled as they are forced to work new rotas.

One whistleblower said: “It’s embarassing to read reports about people waiting so long for an ambulance when they are so in need. “That is not the service we want to provide. But that situation is only going to get worse.

“This is a disgrace – ambulance staff are concerned for the safety of the public.”

The paramedic – who is not being named to protect their job – also said low staffing levels already in place at the East of England Ambulance Service, had put ambulance workers at risk as they frequently had to deal with angry members of the public.

He said: “We already turn up to calls and people are a lot more agitated towards us, whereas normally, people are pleased to see us. “Now they are demanding to know where we have been. People get into this job to help people.

“They want to help those who are sick and injured and it’s so frustrating to turn up to a call and find someone who has been waiting up to an hour or even longer. “It’s not our fault, but we are finding ourselves having to justify ourselves to the public.” The whistleblower also said low staffing levels at the moment meant paramedics got just one 30-minute break during their 12-hour shifts.

He added: “At the moment, when we finish at a hospital, we start straight back out on the road. We get no down time at all.

“Even if we’ve dealt with a fatal or tragic incident, we only get a half-hour break for our whole shift, and we have to take those 30 minutes to the letter.”

The paramedic said he wanted the public to know how desperate the situation had become so people understood that ambulance crews were still giving the job their all.

He added: “For many of us we live in the areas we work in, so we have elderly and young relatives ourselves who may have to call an ambulance and will get the same level of service.

“We know they deserve better, but we want people to understand we are working non-stop to get to every 999 call, despite the cuts to ambulance cover and staff not being replaced.”