HUNDREDS more new ambulances are taking to the roads as part of a massive £50million investment.

The East of England Ambulance Service is investing in 440 new ambulances which are designed to be more comfortable for patients while boosting safety for crews and the care which they can provide.

The fleet replacement programme began in 2019/20 when 214 vehicles took the roads.

Another 226 are being replaced this financial year, and will be operational by April.

The final 50 ambulances in the existing fleet will be replaced from 2021/22.

The service is also delivering 32 specially-designed Volkswagen vans in the coming weeks for its ambulance officers, which have more space than the vehicles they are replacing.

As well as allowing staff to carry a wider range of life-saving equipment, the vans have a bespoke incident command area to improve the response they can provide.

Finally, 19 new vehicles specially designed for patients who have suffered falls or mental health issues have also been leased, along with 36 replacement vehicles for non-emergency patient transport.

Bosses say all the vehicles have been developed following consultation with staff, trade unions, patients and carers.

Head of fleet Chris Wiltshire said: “We are delighted that our ambulance replacement programme is nearing completion with the roll-out of these fantastic new vehicles.

“The ambulances have been designed to make transfers smoother and more comfortable for patients, and to create a safer working environment for crews as they provide the care to patients.

"The vehicles are also significantly lighter than our existing fleet, making them more efficient and environmentally-friendly as CO2 emissions, fuel costs and maintenance will be reduced. This will save more than £3million annually when all of the vehicles have been replaced later this year.

“The new specialist vehicles for our ambulance officers have much more space, in turn allowing them to carry more life-saving equipment and manage incidents on scene more effectively."