Two members of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service have been suspended pending an internal investigation into alleged doctoring of 999 response times, it has emerged.
The move was confirmed by the Transport & General Workers Union, which both men are understood to be members of, and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, in statements to the BBC.
It is understood the incident relates to the recording of response times at the Regional Emergency Medical Despatch Centre based in Belfast.
It is believed the allegations concern a small number of call-outs over a short time frame.
A spokesman for the NI Ambulance Service said they would be "unable to comment on any individual case that may be part of a current internal investigation".
He revealed, however, that targets set for the current year required ambulance personnel to reach 65% of Category A patients - people with immediately life threatening complaints - within eight minutes.
The pressure to reach patients quicker is set to rise, with targets set at 70% for March 2008.
The Eastern Health Board area has already surpassed this target with 73.1% at October, while the Northern and Southern Health board areas are struggling to meet half the call-outs within eight minutes.
A NIAS spokesman said: "The most recent performance figures available show that NIAS is progressing towards the targets set and that at October 2007, 60.9% province-wide of Category A calls have received a response within eight minutes."
West Tyrone MLA Dr Kieran Deeney, a GP in Omagh and a member of the Northern Ireland Health Committee has raised concerns that committee members were not aware of the internal probe at an earlier date.
He also said that meeting targets was now taking precedence over patient safety and welfare.
He said: "Our job is to scrutinise and to monitor and we must be made aware of all information and what goes on in trusts, what departments are doing and what the Minister is doing."
Stating that the health service was "completely overmanaged" he added:
"Waiting lists are important and the time it takes to get to patients, but targets have taken absolute presidence over the patient care system."