Suffolk: Ambulance service must improve or face fines

Ambulance bosses have vowed to focus on improving care for patients

Ambulance bosses have vowed to focus on improving care for patients - Credit: Archant

AMBULANCE bosses have until the end of this month to hit their targets for response times before NHS Suffolk impose fines, the EADT can reveal.

Health chiefs called an emergency meeting with the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) after raising concerns over a succession of missed targets in the county – particularly in rural areas.

At NHS Suffolk’s board meeting on Wednesday, Tracy Dowling, director of strategic commissioning said EEAST was “in breach of its contract”.

Figures published in a report considered by the board show that EEAST failed to respond to category ‘red’ patients – those in an immediately life-threatening condition – within both the eight-minute and 19-minute targets.

In November, 68.6% of ‘red’ calls were responded to within eight minutes and 88.9% within 19 minutes in Suffolk compared to the national target of 75% and 95% respectively.

At yesterday’s meeting with new chief executive of EEAST Andrew Morgan, the two parties agreed to work together to improve the service for patients.

Mrs Dowling told the EADT the meeting had been very “positive”.

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However if the ambulance trust fail to achieve their targets by the end of February, the EADT understands they will face fines.

Mrs Dowling said: “We have agreed that we both want the same thing – a high quality and responsive ambulance service.

“We agreed that the ambulance service will meet the two targets by the end of this month.”

And a spokeswoman for EEAST added: “Today’s meeting was extremely productive and mutually supportive. Both parties worked together on the recovery plan and made significant progress on deciding the actions within that.

“These actions include the continuing recruitment of 200 new frontline staff, putting in more power at local level so new section leaders can tailor services to their community’s needs, more intelligent use of resources so that we only send the crew and vehicle that the patient needs, more effective rotas, a staff sickness absence management plan, extra cover when and where it is needed and giving hospitals practical help to reduce handover delays.

“The focus for the ambulance service is on the quality of service and compassion to patients, and we are confident we will achieve that with the support of our commissioners.”

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