THE ambulance trust which serves Hertfordshire has proportionally the second lowest number of paramedics in England and Wales, an investigation has revealed.

Last week a London paramedic claimed that technicians were being sent as a first response in order to meet the Government's eight-minute response target.

After London, it was claimed the East of England trust - which serves Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk - had the second lowest percentage of fully-trained paramedics in its front-line response staff with 46 per cent.

The allegations were made made on ITV1's Tonight with Trevor McDonald programme, 999 Lottery.

But this week, the trust hit back, calling the programme's report "imbalanced" and "misleading scaremongering".

Acting chief executive Anna Bennett told the Review: "We would like to reassure our patients that our staff are skilled clinicians capable of dealing with life-threatening emergencies.

"Our prime focus is that patients receive the best possible clinical care rather than simply stopping the clock to meet response times."

The trust's medical director, Dr John Scott, said there were only a handful of drugs and procedures that EMTs could not administer or carry out, and that it was "untrue and insulting" to suggest their attendance on a 999 call would put the patient's life at risk.

He said: "We have every confidence in our EMTs and operate a model of care which provides additional clinician support in a number of ways should it be required. These include paramedic follow up attendance at the scene, a clinical support desk and a senior clinician or doctor providing a higher level of advice available over the phone.

"Under the current system every paramedic is initially trained as an EMT, who have the same basic training as paramedics, the same patient assessment skills and can undertake life-saving treatments including defibrillation and much more effectiv airway management techniques than previously."