HUNDREDS of people attended a recruitment open day in a bid to play their part in helping saving people’s lives in Hampshire.

More than 400 people flocked to Otterbourne on Saturday to take part in the initiative run by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).

The event comes after the ambulance service announced it is struggling to fill almost 170 vacancies after being hit by a national shortage of NHS staff.

As previously reported, managers have had to call on agency staff and private providers as posts became vacant, often a result of people retiring, being promoted or landing new jobs.

Vacancies for clinicians, 999 call handlers and ambulance care assistants were among those advertised at the recruitment day held at Southern House.

People were given the chance to take part in tours, watch live demonstrations, view vehicles used by the service and speak to SCAS staff members.

Philippa Davies, 25, travelled from Andover to take part in the event and said she hopes to become a call handler.

“This open day has been very useful. I am even more convinced I want to work here. I like helping people. I have spoken with different people about what they do and it was very interesting,”she said.

Among the SCAS staff members who welcomed residents at the event was Andy Gordon.

The 47-year-old from Eastleigh joined the service as member of the non-emergency patient transport service three years ago after he took part in a recruitment open day.

“I have been in the NHS since. My job satisfaction was stratospheric. I love the people I have worked with,” he said.

Mr Gordon is now training to become an ambulance care assistant.

SCAS currently has 168 vacancies, compared with 350 in January 2018.

Last year health service unions claimed that ambulance staff were quitting as a result of “intolerable” pressures, including long shifts.

However, SCAS managers said the variety of choices available to employees was contributing to the shortage.

Two months ago it was revealed that SCAS was one of only two ambulance trusts in the country which was meeting national performance targets.