Slap on wrist for ambulance

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THE county’s ambulance service will be fined £5 million for failing to respond speedily enough to life-threatening and serious calls.

But the action is just a token slap on the wrist from NHS bosses because the money will be reinvested in the ambulance service to boost response times.

For the second year in a row, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) missed performance targets for life threatening (category A) and serious (category B) calls.

Ambulances must reach 75 per cent of category A calls within eight minutes – but EMAS managed only 72.4 per cent regionally and 72.5 per cent in Lincolnshire.

Category B calls must be reached within 19 minutes – but EMAS managed just 88.3 per cent regionally and a lowly 85.7 per cent in Lincolnshire.

The ambulance contract is overseen by NHS Derby County on behalf of health authorities, including NHS Lincolnshire.

NHS Derby’s director of corporate strategy, Martin Whittle, said: “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.”

The £5 million would have been part of the budget controlled by EMAS but now it will be ring-fenced to finance the parts of the service directly linked to ambulance response times.

NHS Lincolnshire chief executive John McIvor said: “NHS Lincolnshire wants to continue to enjoy a high quality responsive service from EMAS for the coming years.”

EMAS deputy chief executive David Farrell said: “We were hitting the target until the severe snow and ice hit us in the last week of November.”

He said EMAS was determined to get it right for patients and has called for help from other ambulance trusts so it can regain its status of three years ago when it was one of the country’s top performers.