The region’s under-pressure ambulance service has been dealt a blow after having funding withheld for failing to meet response time targets.

The East of England Ambulance Service will be penalised two per cent of its contract with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) after ­falling short of national standards, and will not be paid in full until it meets them.

The measure will only cost the ­ambulance service if it fails to deliver by the end of the financial year - although it is unclear what the figure could be.

The withdrawal comes after a report last year found the ambulance service failed to meet its target of reaching 95 per cent of Category A patients - those in life-threatening situations - within 19 minutes, and a clinical capacity review found the service was performing poorly in many areas. It was ordered to take urgent action to raise performance following an inspection by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission.

A Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG spokesman said: "NHS ­commissioners are working closely with ambulance trust executives to ensure the issues that are causing the deterioration in response times are addressed and, where necessary, reinvest these resources to improve care."