SOUTH East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) staff could lose £5,000 in wages, union officials have claimed.

The trust, which looks after 4.5million people, has seven stations across north Kent, including Bluewater, Darent Valley Hospital and Swanley Fire Station.

But GMB Union bosses claim salaries will be reduced to save 30 posts as part of the £40million savings needed by Secamb over the next five years.

GMB regional organiser Rob Macey said: "GMB members feel they are being treated appallingly by Secamb, who appear hell-bent on making these cuts in order to achieve their Foundation Trust status.

"GMB consider that paramedics, technicians and other ambulance workers provide a vitally important service to the public and they should be paid properly for doing so.

"Morale is now at an all-time low and it is a very real fear that patient safety could be put in jeopardy."

But the trust insisted it was committed to protecting frontline services and that no frontline jobs were under threat.

Currently the majority of the trust's frontline staff are paid a 25 per cent unsocial hours premium, but from April this year the payment will be calculated based on the number of hours actually worked.

A Secamb spokesman said: “The introduction of new rota software now means that the Trust can accurately measure what hours each member of staff has worked ensuring that all frontline staff are treated equally and a fair payment system can be introduced – one where people are paid for the work they undertake.

“Secamb has a responsibility to taxpayers to spend its funds wisely.”