An extra £9 million will be invested this year to improve the standards of the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS).
Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which manages the EMAS contract on behalf of 22 CCGs across the region, has signed off the terms following a ‘demand and capacity review’.
The funding will go on clinical staff, ambulances and other resources in the first year, potentially rising to £19 million next year – depending on performance targets and financial agreements as part of contract terms.
It’s hoped the additional money will enable EMAS to respond more quickly and consistently to 999 calls and urgent GP requests for ambulances.
The review by commissioners and EMAS identified a gap between the resources presently available, and what is needed to deliver national performance standards for ambulance services set for all trusts in autumn 2017.
The trust will now work on issues affecting performance such as handover delays at hospitals – which account for an average of over 190 hours a day.
Richard Henderson, EMAS Chief Executive, said: “We will be able to make significant improvements to the quality of our services as a result, most notably in terms of being able to respond more quickly and more consistently to our patients.”
“However” he added, “there is a lot more work to be done and these changes will not happen overnight.
“Over coming months, we will focus on recruiting many more staff, purchasing more ambulances and equipment, and ensuring that everyone has access to the right training, development and support needed to ensure we deliver consistently outstanding care to our patients.
“We will also be working with commissioners and our healthcare partners across the entire region to address issues that impact directly on our performance, not least in reducing critical handover delays at some hospitals; these account for an average of over 190 hours every day when our ambulances are unable to respond to emergency calls.”
Chris Clayton, Chief Executive Officer for Derbyshire CCGs, added: “By working closely with EMAS we’ve been able to agree appropriate funding to support them in delivering the new national standards.
“Our job as commissioners is to make sure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and well, giving all patients the best possible care.
“To make sure this investment of extra cash is doing what is needed for patients we will be continuing to work with EMAS to review key performance indicators on a quarterly basis.
“These measures will assess EMAS’ ability to make improvements to response times as additional resources, such as new ambulances, crews and 999 call handlers, are brought on board.
“As a result, we expect to see an improvement in performance to patient response times.”
Commissioners across the region will continue to work with EMAS and other providers across the system to address any other issues which are impacting on ambulance performance.