Ambulance Watch: Concerns over ‘significant weaknesses’ in 999 trust’s finances

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance in Norwich.

An East of England Ambulance Service ambulance in Norwich. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Concerns have been raised about 'significant weaknesses' in the finances of the region's ambulance service, according to a new report.

Officials from the Audit Commission said they were not satisfied that the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) had proper arrangements to secure the 'economy, efficiency and effectiveness' of its resources.

A total of 19 NHS trusts across the country were flagged up to Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, this financial year for failing to make their statutory duty to break-even.

A further 27 trusts, including EEAST, were also issued warnings to put improved financial plans in place.

Rob Murray, audit director for Ernst & Young LLP, who looked at the ambulance trust's financial plan, said: 'In response to a declining performance in ambulance response times and critical reports from the Care Quality Commission the trust had, during the year, developed a performance improvement plan which requires significant investment in 2014/15 and 2015/16. At the conclusion of our audit, the trust had not yet been able to develop a medium-term financial plan which properly reflected its performance improvement plan.'

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'In particular, its budgets for 2014/15 and 2015/16 did not include planned expenditure necessary to deliver that plan. This means that the trust was not currently able to demonstrate its financial resilience over the medium term.

'We recognise the challenging period of transformation faced by the trust to improve and join up activity, finance, workforce plans and quality outcomes. However, this change process will take time and our qualification was based on an assessment of arrangements in place at the conclusion of our audit.'

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