Additional funding for the ambulance service in Lincolnshire will be invested in more staff and resources.
East Midlands Ambulance Service and commissioners have agreed to invest £9m additional funding to achieve new ambulance standards.
EMAS and the Hardwick Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which acts on behalf of 22 CCGs across the region, have agreed new contract terms which will see the extra money invested this year.
Hardwick CCG has signed off the terms, which will see £9m extra funding for clinical staff, ambulances and other resources being provided in the first year, potentially rising to approximately £19m next year, dependent on performance targets being met and other financial agreements made as part of the contract terms.
The additional money will be invested in those resources to enable EMAS to respond more quickly and more consistently to 999 calls and urgent GP requests for ambulances.
EMAS and commissioners have been in discussions regarding the right level of resources required to achieve national standards at a county level, which came into force for all ambulance trusts in autumn 2017.
The additional funding has been agreed following a jointly commissioned, independent ‘demand and capacity review’. The review identified a gap between the resources presently available, and what is needed to deliver national performance standards for ambulance services. This has resulted in some of the longer waiting times for ambulances to respond in the county in recent years.
The new funding is designed to directly address this gap, and is expected to result in a stepped improvement in EMAS ambulance response times and consistency of response across all areas of the East Midlands region.
An EMAS spokesman said: “Overall, we are looking to recruit over 200 staff across the whole region. But the south of Lincolnshire is the only part we struggle to recruit in and so we are putting in extra advertising and drop-in sessions at the new joint fire and ambulance station at Sleaford yesterday and today (Thursday) to get the public to see what the job entails.”
She said it will depend on these shortfalls across the region as to where the extra money will be distributed for vehicles and staff.
Richard Henderson, EMAS Chief Executive, said: “I am delighted that, by working together with commissioners, we have identified and agreed the level of funding needed. 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.
“People working at EMAS have worked tremendously hard to deliver a good service despite various pressures relating to demand. It will be fantastic news to everyone that we will soon be joined by new colleagues and have access to additional opportunities for career development within EMAS. It’s a very exciting time to be working here.
“However, 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, said: “We’re pleased to have agreed new contract terms with EMAS which will help patient response times be successfully met.
“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.
“Each contract we agree is important and also affects the available funding we have for other provider services, such as urgent hospital care, so it’s crucial that we balance needs very carefully before making any commitment.
“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.
• The funding will be awarded to EMAS and is linked to quarterly performance targets.
• The additional funding will support EMAS in achieving the national ambulance response standards at a county level by quarter one (April to June) of the 2019/2020 financial year.
• Performance against the agreed targets will be published in future EMAS Integrated Board Reports. These reports are discussed during Trust Board meetings, which are held in public. Anyone interested in attending can find out more by visiting our website at www.emas.nhs.uk/about-us/trust-board/next-board-meeting/
• EMAS’s annual budget for 2017/18 was £181m, which includes funding to respond to 999 and urgent calls across five counties, as well as a number of other activities including patient transport services.
• EMAS is recruiting now. Visit www.emas.nhs.uk or check out social media posts on Facebook and Twitter for the latest job opportunities.