PLANS to bring in a joint ambulance service partnership for Dorset have come into effect.

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt approved the proposals for South Western ambulance service foundation trust and Great Western ambulance service to join forces earlier this month.

There is now a single ambulance service for the South West, serving a population of more than 5.3million people.

Heather Strawbridge, chairman of South Western ambulance service, said: “I would like to thank staff from both trusts who have worked – and continue to work – so hard to make this partnership a reality.”

Great Western ambulance service chairman Peter Carr added: “When as a board we decided in August 2011 to identify a partner rather than pursue an application for foundation trust status as an independent trust, our decision was based on the best interests of patients, staff and taxpayers. That focus has remained throughout.”