Minimising patient waits and maximising the number of ambulances available in the community is the aim of a new scheme launched by the East of England Ambulance Service.

Patient safety intervention teams (PSIT) have been introduced across region to keep ambulances on the road treating patients and, in turn, improve response times.

Teams will be deployed to emergency departments across the region where handover delays between paramedics and hospitals are continuing past 45 minutes, where no immediate resolution of the situation is apparent and patients are waiting for an ambulance response elsewhere.

The aim is to minimise patient wait and maximise the availability of ambulances, which, the service said, is especially challenging during the winter period.

A spokesman for the service said: "Teams will work collaboratively with emergency department staff to maintain the safety of patients in the department along with ensuring awareness of those 999 patients who are waiting for a response."

Matt Broad, interim deputy director of strategy and transformation, said: "These teams are only deployed in very certain circumstances, however, have already proven their effectiveness.

"We deployed a team on Monday, meaning six crews could immediately hand over care of their patients, to restock and be back out on the road. It should mean crews can get back on the road to help patients quicker."

The winter scheme is aimed at supporting ambulance staff and patient care and, it is anticipated, will run until March 2018. During the period, PSIT teams will be rolled out across the region.

PSIT staff will be clearly identifiable and will be dispatched to hospitals by a tactical commander as part of the service's escalation procedures as demand increases.