Ambulance staff claim up to 40 more vehicles must be put on the road after figures showed numerous failings to meet national targets.

The claims came as fresh figures showed that the East of England Ambulance Service had consistently missed national targets for the ten months since last April.

The eight-minute response target of 75 per cent for responding to category A patients - those in an immediately life-threatening condition - was only met once in North East Essex, last April.

Mid-Essex faired slightly better, with it meeting that target a quarter of the time.

Tony Hughes, GMB union organiser, said: “One of the problems is the size of the east of England. If you get a large number of calls in a particular area they will divert ambulances to that area leaving other areas short.

“It’s just a knock on affect all the time."

An East of England Ambulance Service spokesman said: "Our trust recognises the need to improve its performance and is implementing a number of measures to do so, including 200 new frontline recruits, 15 extra ambulances which will be crewed by existing staff on overtime as much as possible until we get our new staff on board, better working with hospitals to tackle handover delays, more effective rotas and the implementation of an organisation development strategy to empower and engage staff."