POLICE officers took a badly bleeding man to hospital because no ambulances were available.

The incident is believed to be among several where police have ferried seriously injured patients to hospital as cuts to the ambulance service take hold.

Mark Smith, chairman of the Essex Police Federation, which represents the county’s officers, says he wants talks with paramedic chiefs urgently because police are being “used like ambulances”.

Police had to step in when a fight broke out in Whitmore Way, Basildon , at about 2.25pm on Sunday.

They found a man lying on the ground pouring with blood after suffering a gash to his head during a brawl.

Mr Smith said the officers – desperate to get help for the man – repeatedly radioed for an ambulance, but were told there were none free.

Instead, the officers put the stricken man in their patrol car and drove him to Basildon Hospital .

Mr Smith said: “When the officers arrived at the scene, my understanding is the man was bleeding a lot.

“They requested an ambulance and when one failed to attend they put in another request, only to be told the ambulance service had no one to attend.

“The officers continued to contact the ambulance service a number of times, but still no one came, so they were forced to transport the man themselves.”

Officers did the same later on the same day in Beech Road, Pitsea , after two teenage boys were hurt in a fight.

A member of the public called for help at 5.45pm, but police took the boys to hospital themselves 30 minutes later after ambulances failed to show up.

It has emerged police in Basildon were told by ambulance control on that day to “try not to contact them” because they had limited paramedic resources.

Mr Smith said: “It’s simply not acceptable and police officers are unfortunately caught between a rock and a hard place.

“If there is an incident a police officer is dealing with and someone is lying on the floor bleeding, an officer can’t just say ‘we’re waiting for an ambulance to come’, because if that person dies, they will face serious questions.”

Mr Smith said it also put police officers’ careers at risk because if a patient were to die in a police car, an investigation would be launched, with the officer usually suspended pending the outcome.

He has raised the issue with Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle and will be seeking urgent talks with the East of England Ambulance Service.

l A 48-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm in relation to the Whitmore Way attack.

He was released without charge after the injured man refused to provide police with a statement.