Ambulance chiefs for the area have reaffirmed their commitment to recruit frontline staff and invest in vehicles after welcoming a report which suggests they are underfunded and understaffed.
The comments come from East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) bosses who welcomed a National Audit Office report which claims ambulance services are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with rising demand for urgent and emergency services.
Richard Henderson, acting chief executive at EMAS, said: “The National Audit Office report notes the many challenges faced by ambulance services across the UK, and that they require joint working across NHS and social care to seek improvement.
“Despite these challenges we are continuing to progress our improvement plans, including to proactively recruit to our frontline and invest in new ambulances to expand our fleet all of which will support us to provide quality services for our patients.”
EMAS has been faced with criticism about waiting times as demand for it services grow.
It in turn pointed to hold ups at A&E departments when dropping patients off. Responding to this criticism, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Lincoln County Hospital, says that it is ‘making investments and working with our colleagues at EMAS to reduce the handover times’.
EMAS states the value of its A&E contract for 2016/17 is £152.5 million to cover six counties – and says it is not funded to meet the national performance standard which requires 75 per cent of all potentially life-threatening calls to be reached within eight minutes.
The audit report says most ambulance trusts are struggling to recruit and retain staff and that increased funding for these services has not matched rising demand.
It also stated too much focus is placed on responding within the eight-minute target leading to inefficient practices.
Mr Henderson said: “We play a vital role in the delivery of urgent and emergency care to patients across the East Midlands. To ensure that we provide a safe, quality service we need to be resourced appropriately, this includes having the right staffing and skill levels, vehicles, equipment and finances.
“In partnership with our commissioners (the people who fund our service) an independent capacity and demand review was done to look at the resources and finances we need to provide a quality service that meets the growing demand.
“The output of the review has positively influenced our contract agreement for 2017/18 allowing for further investment in our service, whilst recognising there still remains a financial and resourcing challenge which impacts our ability to achieve the national performance standards.”