Ambulance service fined £3.5m

East Midlands Ambulance Service has been fined for a third successive year after it failed to meet national targets for patients involved in life-threatening emergencies.

The service was fined £3.5m by the group that commissions it because it missed NHS response time targets in 2012-13.

Of 10 ambulance trusts in England, EMAS was one of only two to miss its targets.

Eastwood Ambulance Station was recently saved from closure after plans to close it caused uproar in the town.

Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero – one of many who protested for it to stay open – says the town deserves the best possible service and has now written to EMAS bosses asking how they intend to improve response times.

She said: “We deserve the best possible ambulance service in Eastwood.

“There is clearly room for improvement and I hope managers will get on and deliver that improvement.

“I’ve met some very dedicated paramedics in Eastwood and It is for the management to step up and ensure the systems are in place to deliver a quicker response time.

“I have written to EMAS bosses and I look forward to hearing from them about how they intend to do improve things. As soon as I hear back ill let Eastwood residents know”

The service is supposed to get an ambulance to 95 per cent of all life-threatening emergencies within 19 minutes, but EMAS missed this target by more than 3 per cent.

The chairman of Lincolnshire’s Health Scrutiny Committee, Christine Talbot, said: “EMAS will have to come back in front of scrutiny to explain themselves, because this is ridiculous.

“If the response times in the East Midlands as a whole are bad, that means the response times in Lincolnshire are even worse.”

NHS Erewash Clinical Commissioning Group is the lead commissioner for the six counties EMAS serves - Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Rutland.

Chief officer Rakesh Marwaha said: “It’s vital that patients in the East Midlands receive high quality care as swiftly as possible and clearly there is still work to do to ensure that EMAS achieve the response standards required.”

However, the service did meet the second target set by the NHS - to respond to 75 per cent of callers reporting a life-threatening emergency within eight minutes.

During the previous two years, EMAS has been fined £2.5m and £5m for missing one or both of the targets.

The money is reinvested in the service.

Since September 2012, EMAS has been seeking to make extensive changes.

In March, the service announced plans to reduce the number of ambulance stations from 65 to 28, creating nine ‘super-hubs’, 19 smaller stations and 108 community points, changes which it said would improve response times.

EMAS also said it was taking on 140 new emergency care assistants.

In addition, it plans to recruit an extra 155 staff in 2013-14.

EMAS’s chief executive, Phil Milligan, insisted the figures showed performance had turned a corner.

He said: “East Midlands Ambulance Service is improving, the evidence is clear. We achieved for the second year running the eight-minute target for life-threatening emergencies, so that’s a major improvement in the past 18 months.

“The performance on the 19-minute target over the past two months shows a step improvement and all of this follows the change programme we have been implementing after a consultation with public and staff last year.”