£3.5m fine for ‘failing’ 999 ambulances

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There were fresh calls this week for East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) to be scrapped after it was hit by a £3.5million fine for failing to answer 999 calls on time.

There are two national targets for emergencies – EMAS scraped in by the skin of its teeth to hit the eight minute target of 75 per cent, answering 75.2 per cent of calls within that time.

But that was the second worst performance of the ten services in England.

EMAS was bottom of the league for the 19-minute target – scoring 91.8 per cent against a target of 95 per cent.

The massive fine is a slap on the wrist because the cash will be ploughed back into the service.

It’s the third year in a row that EMAS has had a multi-million fine for missing targets.

Sutton Bridge has taken the brunt of late-arriving or even “no show” ambulances and EMAS apologised to the family of a man who died.

County councillor Chris Brewis, who represents the ward, says Lincolnshire needs its own ambulance service so the county can control its own destiny

He said: “I just want us to have a fit for purpose service in Lincolnshire.”

EMAS claims it will deliver an improved service under a new programme, Being the Best, when ambulances are stationed at new sites.

But Coun Patricia Talbot, who chairs the county council Health Scrutiny Committee, has asked Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to look at the plan because councillors believe the consultation was flawed.

She said: “I was appalled to see that they (EMAS) had been fined for the third year running.”

EMAS claim its Being the Best programme will “make a significant contribution to improving performance”.

l EMAS provided 54,509 journeys to hospital for Lincolnshire patients in a life threatening condition.