East of England Ambulance Service named on shortlist of trusts that may be put in financial special measures

An ambulance

An ambulance - Credit: Archant

The region’s ambulance service could be placed in financial special measures, it has emerged.

East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) is among several health trusts that are being investigated by regulator NHS Improvement (NHSI) for falling behind its financial plan.

Five trusts, including the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, are already in financial special measures - a new form of regulation where senior NHS officials help local trusts get their finances back on track.

EEAST has overspent on private ambulances by £4.2m so far, causing an overall year-to-date deficit of £5.2m.

Their target was to hold a £700,000 surplus at this time of the year.

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However EEAST’s financial performance has been hampered by health chiefs not managing to complete negotiations over a “recovery action plan” with Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.

When this plan is agreed, funding towards using private ambulances - a key short-term measure to help EEAST improve response times - will be unlocked which would help EEAST’s financial position.

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An EEAST spokesman said: “EEAST and commissioners have agreed a mechanism to fund additional capacity to continue to improve ambulance response times and performance this year.

“EEAST has seen significant increases in demand, especially with patients with the most serious conditions, and as a result has been running a huge recruitment plan over the last two years which has seen more than 750 student paramedics joining the service. “These student paramedics are still in training, so this additional capacity has been helping to boost ambulance cover.

“It is expected that this agreement will also have a positive impact on EEAST’s financial position.”

Five other trusts from across the country are included on the shortlist.

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