Ambulance Watch: 999 trust faces £1.5m fine for not hitting key targets

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance in Norwich. An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance in Norwich.

Friday, August 29, 2014
5:39 PM

The region’s under-performing ambulance service is set to be fined £1.5m for not hitting key response times - four months after it received an extra £12m to improve performance.

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East of England Ambulance Service Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve AdamsEast of England Ambulance Service Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), which has been criticised for slow responses over the last two years, has incurred the financial penalties from the GP-led groups in charge of NHS purse strings.

The NHS trust is facing a £1.2m fine from 19 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) for the first four months of the 2014/15 financial year for not attending to at least 75pc of the most urgent 999 calls within eight minutes.

The service is also facing a £300,000 fine for hospital turnaround delays. Every ambulance is supposed to be ready for its next call-out within 15 minutes of handing over a patient to A&E.

News of the fine comes after the CCGs pledged an additional £12m to the ambulance service in 2014/15 to assist with its transformation plan to recruit 400 new student paramedics, put more ambulances on the roads, and help the redundancy costs of a back office restructure. However, the extra cash came with an expectation that performance would improve.

Wendy Tankard, chief contracts officer at Ipswich and East and West Suffolk CCGs and lead for the East of England Ambulance Consortium said: “NHS contracts contain national mandatory financial consequences in addition to local financial consequences for ambulance trusts and other NHS providers who do not meet national or local performance standards. These standards are applied to ensure that services provide high quality, safe and effective care and deliver the best possible outcomes for patients.”

“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 under performance and ensure those improvements are made to ensure our population receives the best possible care.”

The service’s chief executive Anthony Marsh said last month that he hoped to start hitting response targets by the end of the year, but it would take another two years to fully turn around the fortunes of the 999 trust.

Responding to the looming financial penalties, he said: “We are working hard to turnaround the ambulance service, such as recruiting hundreds of new front-line staff, bringing in new emergency ambulances, upskilling our staff and on target to have identified £10m of savings in back office functions and management - money which will be reinvested in more front-line 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.”

The fines come after it emerged this week that Dr Marsh, who is also CEO of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, claimed almost £5,000 in expenses for hotels this year.

Have you got a story about the ambulance service? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

11 comments

  • Why would the CEO of WMAS & EEAS need to stay in London on expenses it is neither central to WMAS or EEAS, only close to his Westminster buddies, from whom he is hoping for a knighthood and not the sort that wee willie winkie wears.

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    Stan

    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • Sugarbeet, you are most likely right, I only said 50% as not being fully aware of who made up all of the CCG's in Norfolk, but from past experience anyone else on groups or similar, health related especially, other members are only there as a token really......its a bit like a group of males sitting on a panel to decide whats the best way to give birth and not asking a mother what it is actually like, let actually involve them! (not wanting to come across as sexist, would be the same as a panel of females, discussing prostate problems)

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    mark trench

    Sunday, August 31, 2014

  • With most of the commentors on here realising that fines are not the answer, who are these fools in power, who believe that fines and ever more taxes are the only way to solve problems. Why do we let them do it to us?

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    Jaydee

    Sunday, August 31, 2014

  • Mark, are you sure only 50% of a CCG are GPs? The document Understanding the new NHS, says "Clinical Commissioning Groups are designed to be clinically led and responsive to the health needs of their local populations. They are membership bodies made up of GP practices in the area they cover.". CCGs can include other members but I interpret this statement as they are primarily composed of GP practices.

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    Sugarbeet

    Sunday, August 31, 2014

  • I think it is really unfair as it seems the only people it affects is patients and frontline staff, which is a real shame as most if not all do more than their best to meet service expectations, but as usual there are others making decisions, without actually speaking to them first! I also note that the fine was by the CCG, are they going to do the same to GP’s or would this not happen as 50% of the group is made up of GP’s and Practice Managers?

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    mark trench

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • How can fining a public body £1.5 million possibly help the situation. Can anyone tell me where that money goes? Is it just a way of reducing the money put in by government?

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    Mr. Raspberry

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • So we have a declining service; a large fine, another fine expected in October 2014, if no improvements made whilst we pay £200k for three days a week for a PT Chief Executive. He gets to stay in the Pullman Hotel in London, travel by first class rail and a chauffeur driven private hire car.

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    Timetosaygoodbye

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • How can anyone expect the ambulance service to provide 8 minute quick response times to the outer lying small villages in the rural areas of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridge, Essex and Bedfordshire??? You would have to have an ambulance stationed every 10 miles across this huge geographical area. When an ambulance is on a job because someone has a nosebleed they are not allowed to be pulled off that job when in the next road you've got a cardiac arrest. Then there are the queues of numerous ambulances at A&E Departments because the hospitals are full so A&E patients cannot be cleared on to the wards of the hospital - hence delaying the ambulances returning out on the road. Then you get people ringing for an ambulance because they can't get a GP appointment. Then you have the 111 service that always seems to send out an ambulance instead of telling people to get a taxi because they don't want to be liable for someone with a broken arm. The ambulance service normally receives 2500 calls per day - There aren't that many ambulances nor staff. Average shift is 150-200 miles, Ambulances are not being used for what they should be - EMERGENCY'S ONLY.

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    Grumbly Ol' Git

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Ever since targets and fines were introduced the NHS,the system has got worse with an awful lot of figure fixing going on. What on earth is the point of fining the Ambulance service 1.5 million? How can taking money away, public money, improve the service and help the public . It is a system failure not the just the Ambulance service. Often ,it seems , there a dozen or more or ambulances waiting at hospitals. This is where the problem lies. More beds, nurses and doctors needed What could be simpler ? Of course ,this will not fit into the Tories and their poodles, LibDems plan of privatisation by stealth. Have to ask Norman Lamb,a NHS minister his view. Though he seems more interested in seating at Carrow Road at the moment.

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    stormy

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • So a public body is fined and pays the fine from public funds which come from the taxpayer? How does that help? Surely senior managers should lose their bonuses andor other perks as this would concentrate their minds and improve performance.

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    la barbe

    Friday, August 29, 2014

  • Is the hospital also facing fines for failing to meet its take over times for receiving patients from ambulances? It should do with that money being paid to the ambulance trust.

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    andy

    Friday, August 29, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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