Nottingham

East Midlands Ambulance: Foundation trust status 'could improve efficiency'

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) says gaining foundation trust status would help it become more "efficient".

David Farrelly, EMAS deputy chief executive, said the service was improving, but the status would enable it "to have an eye on the future".

A series of public consultation meetings ahead of submitting an application are under way this month and in June.

Mr Farrelly said the cost of the consultation was about £30,000.

But he said that EMAS was working hard to keep the costs down.

EMAS said gaining the status would mean "we will have a membership made up of staff and public who can really have an influence in the way our future services are developed and delivered to our local communities."

It said the status meant being able to "plan for a longer period - five years plus - so we can be more confident in how EMAS will develop for patients, giving us a clear direction of travel for the organisation."

But it said it would also mean no longer having access to Strategic Health Authority funding if it experienced financial difficulties.

Mr Farrelly said EMAS was aiming to be "as efficient and as effective an organisation as we can be" with foundation trust status.

"We are improving. Part of the (consultation) process is that we understand where our problems are," he said.

"We're doing something about it and we're getting speed into actually trying to turn the situation around."

Earlier this year EMAS announced proposals to cut the number of its ambulance stations from 70 to 10 "hubs".

It said the hubs would be bigger and provide a better service and final plans would be drafted in July.

National figures released earlier this month showed EMAS had missed its emergency response target but had improved on the previous month's performance.

The service responded to 93% of emergency calls within 19 minutes in March - an improvement from 90.3% in February. The national target is 95%.

The figures also showed that EMAS was the worst of 12 regional ambulance services in its 19-minute response category.

A spokesman said the service did meet its target by responding to 77.3% of calls in March within eight minutes - better than its February figure of 72.6% - and one of the best in England.

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