Ambulance trust faces £5m penalty

EAST Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) looks set to be fined £5 million after failing to meet its response times.

NHS Derbyshire County, which oversees the performance of the service, has confirmed that it is highly likely it will be fining them for not achieving the national response requirements. But the trust has said the £5 million will be reinvested back into EMAS.

Ambulance services are expected to respond to 75 per cent of Category A (life-threatening) calls within eight minutes and 95 per cent of Category B (serious but not immediately life-threatening) calls within 19 minutes. But, for 2010-11, EMAS has recorded figures of 72.4 per cent for Category A and 88.3 per cent for Category B calls compared to last year’s figures of 74.9 per cent and 95.3 per cent respectively.

Martin Whittle, director of corporate strategy at NHS Derbyshire County, said: “It is important that we recognise that EMAS may not achieve the standards required but we are investing into the organisation to support all the measures being taken to address the under-performance. We can assure patients across the East Midlands that we will be working closely with EMAS to ensure that every penny that is reinvested will be used to drive up performance and improve services.”

And David Farrelly, Deputy Chief Executive of EMAS, added: “We have provided a tremendous amount of care to patients this year, often in very difficult circumstances, but there is no getting away from the fact that these are deeply disappointing results.

“We were hitting the target until the severe snow and ice hit us in the last week of November. The prolonged cold spell brought a dramatic increase in patients with breathing problems and flu-like symptoms through December and into January. Unfortunately we were not able to regain our focus through February and March to make up for lost ground.”