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East Anglia: Ambulance service faces total of £1.5m in fines for failing to meet targets

PUBLISHED: 18:01 29 August 2014 | UPDATED: 18:01 29 August 2014

The ambulance service was called to the scene

The ambulance service was called to the scene

The region’s ambulance service is set to be fined £1.5m for failing to meet key response times.

The service faces a £1.2m fine for failing to reach 75% of life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes, and a £300,000 fine over missed turnaround time targets at hospitals.

The service, which covers Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, incurred the penalty for failing to meet response times between April and July this year.

A proportion of the total fine, which is a mandatory consequence of ambulance trusts and other NHS providers not meeting national or local performance standards, will be levied at the end of the financial year next March.

The trust could face further financial consequences if performance standards continue to not be met.

Wendy Tankard, chief contracts officer at Ipswich and East and West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) and lead for the East of England Ambulance Consortium said that the standards were applied to ensure that services provided high quality, safe and effective care and delivered the best possible outcomes for patients.

She said: “We continue to work with the East of England Ambulance Service in transforming the service where it has failed to meet performance standards.

“This work has included an additional £9.5m investment from the CCGs over and above the contract price in order to support EEAST in their transformation programme.

“Mandatory financial consequence to date are £1.5m and a proportion of this will be applied at the end of the year. They will continue to incur financial consequences if performance standards are not met.

“The Commissioning Consortium will continue to work with and monitor EEAST to address areas of underperformance and ensure those improvements are made to ensure our population receives the best possible care.”

Earlier this week it was revealed that Anthony Marsh, chief executive of both the East of England and West Midlands ambulance, submitted claims worth up to £188 a night for luxury overnight accommodation.

The news came weeks after his £232,000 salary was condemned as “obscene” by health minister and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter.

Mr Marsh, who took on the part-time role in January, works three days a week for the service and two days a week for the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Figures unveiled under Freedom of Information laws showed that Mr Marsh’s hotel bill was £4,839.72 from January 1 to August 20 this year.

An ambulance service spokesman said: “We are working hard to turnaround the ambulance service, such as recruiting hundreds of new frontline staff, bringing in new emergency ambulances, upskilling our staff and on target to have identified £10 million of savings in back office functions and management - money which will be reinvested in more frontline staff. All of these actions are helping us to improve our service to patients.

“We are really pleased with the support from our clinical commissioning groups, especially in the significant investment they have put into the ambulance service this year to enable us to make some of these changes.

“Obviously, as we get closer to the end of the year we will be working closely with commissioners to discuss the impact of any fines and how these might be managed.”

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