West Midlands Ambulance Service faces £3m fine for response times

The ambulance service should reach 75% of patients with a red one alert within eight minutes, its targets state

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West Midlands Ambulance Service faces a £3m fine over its poor response times, a trust boss has said.

Chief executive Anthony Marsh told staff the fine was "a real risk" in a weekly written briefing.

He said it would be a travesty if the money was taken away from front-line services and it would be harder to get an increase in funding next year.

This would make it more difficult to train additional paramedics or replace older vehicles, he added.

The ambulance service should reach 75% of patients with a red one alert - patients who have suffered a cardiac arrest or stopped breathing - within eight minutes.

'Under pressure'

Data seen by the BBC shows that for 2013, the Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire figure is around 68%.

In Coventry and Warwickshire, the ambulance service has also just failed to reach its 75% target for the year for red one alerts.

In Birmingham and the Black Country, it is just missing targets for red two calls, which are classed as all other life-threatening emergencies.

Its response is about 74% for the entire region in this category.

Mr Marsh said: "For me what is important is whether we are providing patients with a good level of service, however we are judged on response standards, that is the method used by commissioners to assess us."

He appealed to everyone to use additional resources to improve the situation.

'Not enough resources'

Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, which leads for all the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the region, said the ambulance service had asked it to request all the other commissioners to review the need for fines, given the pressure on the system.

"Fines are part of the standard contract and apply to all care providers including ambulance services," it added.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said: "The trust is hopeful that the Clinical Commissioning Groups in the West Midlands will adopt the same lines as other CCGS across England which are reinvesting their fines into the ambulance service to help maintain a safe service to patients."

Unison said paramedics were under a lot of pressure and more resources were needed - not less.

Union spokesman Ray Salmon said the West Midlands received less money than other regions and the funding formula was partly to blame.

"The ambulance service simply has not got enough resources," he said.

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