Funding boost for region’s ambulance service will mean more staff and ambulances


- Credit: Archant

The region’s under-pressure ambulance service will get nearly £12 million more in funding next year, combined with extra staff and ambulances.

A further 330 staff and 160 ambulances will be sought for the East of England Ambulance service over the next three years after the 19 commissioners, who buy services, agreed a six year contract with the ambulance service, following a wide-ranging report.

The move will see a rise in funding from £213.5m in 2017-18 to £225m in 2018-19 - with a further increase to £240m predicted in 2019-20.

The ambulance service had been under fire for over its ability to cope following increased demand last winter and the report was instigated by regulators NHS England and NHS Improvement, with the authors looking into the operational and financial needs of the service in a bid to develop a more sustainable contracting framework.

Robert Morton, ambulance service chief executive, said: “This is an excellent step forward as we aim to ease the strain on our existing staff who work incredibly hard for patients. That strain has been evident particularly over the last few months, during the increased demand which winter pressures always brings to the NHS.

“As a system, we are looking after more people with complex long-term conditions than ever before.”

Mr Morton said: “This will take time to do. Extra funding will mean the ambulance service can expand to meet the rising demand. We are committed to working with partners to improve services for patients, particularly in delivering more community care so they can stay in their own homes, where they want to be.”

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Ed Garratt, representing the commissioners, said: “The ambulance service, commissioners and regulators have worked closely on this review to ensure we have a long-term plan for sustainable and safe 999 services.

“Commissioners have committed significant additional investment over the next two years to increase both staffing and ambulance vehicle levels. One of the key recommendations from this review is that a six-year service contract is agreed from 2018/19 to provide stability and certainty to EEAST, with two-year intervals to review key aspects of the contract around quality and performance.”

He said: “Everyone involved is determined to make the necessary lasting improvements to enable well-supported staff to deliver the very best urgent care services for patients.”