SOUTH Central Ambulance Service said it saw “unprecedented” demand during 2012 and plans to buy more ambulances to cope.

Across the year, demand for ambulances rose by 13 per cent – from 17,443 incidents in 2011 to 19,759 last year. But it failed to explain how the recent demand had affected three years of failing to meet the targets.

Operations director Steve West said: “The level of activity we have had is unprecedented. It has never been this busy in Oxfordshire.

“That is really stretching us, but we are looking to respond to that challenge.”

He said the ambulance service was looking to bring in more ambulances – discussions were still ongoing about how many – and treat more patients at the scene to avoid unnecessary trips to hospital.

The service has also increased overtime for front line crews, which includes paramedics, ambulance technicians and emergency care assistants.

Mr West added: “Ambulances are deployed into west Oxfordshire every single day and the fact there is no station there makes no difference.

“It is the overall number in Oxfordshire that will enable us to prioritise that response into west Oxfordshire.”

He said he did not know the cause of the rise in demand, but officials were investigating it.

Will Hancock has been chief executive of South Central Ambulance Service since its creation in 2006.