THE ambulance service that serves Dorset is expanding today - and its boss says there will be benefits for patients.

South Western Ambulance Service has taken over neighbouring Great Western Ambulance Service and now covers an area stretching from the Isles of Scilly to Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.

Chief executive Ken Wenman said: “With a larger workforce, we have greater resilience and flexibility to meet the challenges in healthcare in the months and years ahead.

“Also, we are better able to invest in cutting-edge treatment and research, and to continue to train our staff to better care for patients in the out-of-hospital environment.

“With an annual turnover of £210million, we can benefit from greater economies of scale to obtain better value in buying medical equipment and emergency vehicles.”

The enlarged trust employs 4,000 staff and expects to provide emergency care to more than 2,000 patients a day across an area of nearly 10,000 square miles.

The resident population of more than 5.3 million is swelled by more than 17.5 million tourists every year. Last year, the two trusts responded to more than 690,000 emergency 999 calls and numbers are expected to continue growing.

South Western Ambulance Trust was the first ambulance trust to achieve foundation status in 2011 and is one of the highest performing in the country. Great Western has been matched it for the last year.

“We are bringing together two strong organisations and that is what will make the new trust even better,” said Mr Wenman.

The acquisition was given final approval by the Secretary of State for Health last month following 14 months of consultation and scrutiny.

Ken Wenman reassured members of the public that the trust would keep it links with local communities “Being a single organisation is going to be exciting and undoubtedly will have its challenges - but I believe it will be highly rewarding for staff and patients,” he said.