HAMPSHIRE’S ambulance service has become the first in the country to achieve special recognition for the safety and efficiency of its vehicles.

Following an audit in August, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SCAS) received Van Excellence Accreditation from the Freight Transport Association.

The achievement demonstrates the trust’s commitment to safer, more efficient and sustainable van operations.

Rick Stillman, SCAS’ head of fleet, said: “I am delighted that, thanks to the efforts of all involved, SCAS has achieved Van Excellence Accreditation.

“If vehicles aren’t maintained to the highest possible standards, our staff and the public we serve could be put in danger.

“Van Excellence Accreditation reassures both Government and the public we serve that we are constantly and continually addressing those issues that concern them.”

The SCAS fleet includes 200 frontline ambulances, 150 rapid response cars, 150 officer cars and 300 Non- Emergency Patient Transport Service vehicles.

These are maintained at three workshops, in Southampton, Reading and Oxford.