LEIGH MP Andy Burnham has backed ambulance workers’ protests against giving a private bus company the job of transferring patients.

The Shadow Health Minister added his voice to that of more than 100 ambulance workers who took their argument to Parliament on Monday.

They fear giving the non-emergency transport work to Arriva will lead to a poorer service for patients.

“Hundreds of people in Leigh depend on this essential service and yet nobody has asked them whether they want ambulance services run by a bus company,” said Mr Burnham.

“This plan to break up our ambulance service is part of the Government’s drive to privatise the NHS. People have a right to be consulted about such an important change and that is why I’m calling on the Government to press the pause button.”

Unison has said the in-house NHS bid for the work topped Arriva on quality but not cost and now warns the move could lead to cuts elsewhere.

The Government has called for cuts to the ambulance service over the next five years, which Unison says are the equivalent of £10 million a year.

It has collected more than 14,000 signatures on a petition calling for Manchester’s Ambulance Patient Transport Service to remain in the NHS and to reverse privatisation plans.

The petition was carried by wheelchair to the Department of Health on Monday.

Dave Prentis, Unison general secretary, said: “I hope that this protest today will focus MPs and ministers’ attention on the huge public outcry and concern at this privatisation plan and cuts to the whole ambulance service.”