East Midlands ambulance bosses told to improve

Ambulance at A&E The NHS said ambulance services across the country were finding the targets challenging

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Ambulance bosses have been ordered to improve response times after missing targets for the second year running.

In 2010-11, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) responded to 72% of life-threatening calls within eight minutes. The national target is 75%.

NHS Derbyshire County says it is likely to impose a £5m fine for the failings.

It said the money would ultimately be re-invested in the service, but that EMAS would have to spend it on improving response times.

The ambulance service said it was "deeply disappointed" at the figures.

The eight-minute target applies to more serious - or Category A - calls.

EMAS also fell short of responding within 19 minutes to 95% of less serious Category B calls, managing 88%.

'Drive up performance'

In a statement, NHS Derbyshire County, which oversees the performance of EMAS, said crews across the country had found the response standards challenging with over half of services likely to miss Category A requirements and almost all set to miss the Category B.

Martin Whittle, director of corporate strategy, said: "It is important that we recognise that EMAS may not achieve the standards required but we are investing into the organisation to support all the measures being taken to address the under-performance.

"We can assure patients across the East Midlands that we will be working closely with EMAS to ensure that every penny that is reinvested will be used to drive up performance and improve services."

David Farrelly, deputy chief executive at EMAS, said: "We are determined to get it right for patients, and we have invited input from colleagues in other ambulance trusts to help us to return to our former status of only three years ago when EMAS was one of the country's top performing ambulance trusts."

On the matter of the penalty, EMAS said: "As an NHS organisation we are required to live within the finances made available to us."

In July 2010, the ambulance service recorded the worst three-month response times in the country for Category A and B calls.

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