Covid costs ambulance trust £35.9m

One ambulance worker said they had been waiting since the weekend to book a test. Photo: Archant

One ambulance worker said they had been waiting since the weekend to book a test. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

The region's ambulance service has been forced to find an extra £36m in eight months to deal with the Covid crisis.

Ahead of its board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, figures show £35.9m has been spent by the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) between April and November.

It has received government funding, including £17.8m for its Covid response between October and March 2021, but the trust forecasts an end of year deficit of £10.8m.

The full breakdown shows that in the eight months, £14.7m went on extra staff, £8.3m on additional shifts for the existing workforce, £2.7m on personal protective equipment and £8.4m on extra ambulances.

Other costs included remote working, decontamination and paying for NHS staff accommodation.

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The full monthly breakdown shows the trust invested £7.8m for Covid costs at the peak of the first wave in April.

There are also comparisons showing the amount spent by ambulance trusts across England to the end of August. In those figures EEAST had spent £26.9m, second to London Ambulance Service, which spent £40.6m. 

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In the report, Heather Madden, head of finance, said: "EEAST has continued with investment into resources for the Covid 19 pandemic situation during November 2020 whilst at the same time seeing an increase in business as usual (BAU) activity and therefore BAU costs."

The board of trustees will also talk about the impact of the pandemic on winter pressures.

Tom Davis, acting chief executive, said demand this year had been at levels expected for Christmas Day and New Year but there had been a steady rise in Covid-19 cases, with a "high number" seen on January 2.

Mr Davis said: "The increase of Covid positive patients has impacted across all areas and brought additional difficulties, for example in delaying handover of patients at hospitals due to their capacity for Covid-positive patients or a delay whilst hospital bays/wards are properly cleaned between patient contacts.

"Across the region, the escalation process has been followed as the system deals with increasing numbers of Covid-positive cases in hospitals. The trust has worked with the health systems across the region in balancing this risk with our ability to respond safely to patients in the community."

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