REVEALED: East Midlands Ambulance fined millions due to missed targets

East Midlands Ambulance Service was fined millions last year for missed targets as it announces a debt crisis and plans to merge with another service.
East Midlands Ambulance Service was fined millions last year for missed targets as it announces a debt crisis and plans to merge with another service.
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Our troubled ambulance service is in £12 million of debt due to fines for bad performance, we can reveal.

Amid the revelations that East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has been in talks with another service to discuss the prospect of merging, it emerges that the service was 'fined' more than £17 million over a four month period.

EMAS finances

- £145 million total annual budget

- £2 million spent on training alone in 2014/15

- £101,206 Director of Operations salary last year

- £11.9 million year-end deficit

But while some cash is recoverable, the actual total loss of income was £7.9 million, with £1.2 million lost from handover reimbursements from hospitals, and £3.5 million lost from 'activities reduction'.

The fines are as part of an internal system of Payments by Results where the service loses cash for failing to meet targets. In it's worst month of the year, EMAS was in negative results for all categories of performance - 'calls', 'hear and treat', 'see and treat' and 'see and convey'.

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Its financial report said there was a loss of income as a direct result of 'Calls, Hear and Treat' activities falling back below planned levels, and in one month they fell two per cent below target.

The Service announced this week it had suffered a £12 million deficit for the year and was forced to take out loans. It now faces the prospect of merging with West Midlands Ambulance service - a potential deal which could see one new service covering a population of 10.4 million.

EMAS has had some of the worst performance statistics in the country, with the number of Red 2 calls reached within eight minutes falling from 97 per cent in 2008-09 to 70 per cent in 2014-15.

An EMAS spoksperson said: "Prior to the departure of the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) Chief Executive in March 2016, discussions about the future leadership of the service began between EMAS and NHS Improvement (formerly Trust Development Authority).

"This included talks with West Midlands Ambulance Service about the potential for leadership support from their Chief Executive. This option, and others, are still being explored and discussions have not yet come to a conclusion. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Richard Wheeler, Director of Finance at East Midlands Ambulance Service, said: “Nationally the NHS has to save £22 billion by 2020/21.

“We have achieved our Cost Improvement Programme savings target in 2015/16 achieving efficiency savings of £6.4 million. However, we have experienced unavoidable extra costs due to responding to a significant increase in life-threatening emergencies and we have also been required to provide extra crews in certain areas to compensate for delays in handing over patients from our ambulances at busy hospitals.

“This means an increase in costs through having more of our highly skilled staff responding to a 999 call every 35 seconds.

“We are not unique in seeing demand increase and many other organisations within the wider health system are in a similar financial position.

“However, we are committed to protecting our frontline services and we will continue to invest in both people and vehicles so we can deliver improved quality to the communities we serve.”

Factbox

- 29,874 hoax calls made for a paramedic in 2011-2015.

- 6 hours, 14 minutes is the service's record for longest emergency call for the end of last year. EMAS said: "This related to a Green 2 categorised call involving a patient in the Nottingham area, and the delay was due to there being no available resources and extremely high demand on the service at the time." The longest non-emergency call for the period was 15 hours and 50 minutes.

- 956 visits were made to Midlands prisons in 2014/15

- Seven break-ins were made into EMAS ambulances last year including instances of drugs stolen, and even a litre of heating oil.