West Midlands Ambulance Service fined over missed targets

The service has been fined after it missed government-set targets

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An ambulance service has been fined £2.6m for failing to reach one of its key targets for life threatening calls, the BBC has learnt.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) failed to reach the government's target of attending 75% of emergencies within eight minutes during 2013-14.

The fine has been imposed by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) which control NHS budgets.

WMAS said there had been unprecedented and unpredictable demand.

So far, in 2014-15, the service said it had met all its targets.

'A farce'

The service will lose £800,000 of the total fine. The remaining £1.8m will be "reinvested to improve ambulance response times", the CCGs said.

WMAS said negotiations on the reinvestment were at "a very advanced stage" and the fine would not impact on front-line staff.

But Ray Salmon from Unison said it was "a farce" to take money away from a service that was already struggling to meet demand.

"You cannot have 17 decisions made locally about an ambulance service which operates across the whole region," he said.

The details of the fine have only came to light because board papers for the North Staffordshire CCG showed the contract was subject to a penalty of £94,000 - North Staffordshire's share of the total amount deducted.

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