THE claim by South Central Ambulance Service that it would need to have 130 ambulances to properly cover the county rather than the current 40 is staggering.

The response rates outside of the city have been a problem for many years, with the ambulance service continually saying it is largely down to numbers.

Response times in emergencies within the city are above the Government targets of getting to every three out of four cases within eight minutes.

But out in rural areas where the distances are greater to travel, it is obviously far more difficult to hit those targets.

The crucial element when figures are bandied about is that the hypothetical patient dying in Marston or a village in West Oxfordshire needs lifesaving treatment within the same timespan. The life of a village dweller is just as precious as that of our city resident.

If you take the numbers quoted by South Central Ambulance at face value, there is just no way it could meet the standards demanded of it. Ninety ambulances will cost £12.6m to buy and £45m a year to run.

If you wiped out the £30m savings it has to make over the next five years, it still would only pay for 11 ambulances If the Government wants three out of every four people dying in this county to have skilled paramedics at their side within eight minutes they need to finance that or admit it’s just not achievable.