An extra 330 staff and 160 ambulances will be sought over the next three years thanks to an increase in funding announced this week.
The consortium of 19 clinical commissioners in the east of England have agreed a six-year contract with the ambulance service, following recommendations in a wide-ranging report. It will see funding rise from the £213.5m spent in 2017/18 to £225m in 2018/19. Subject to activity remaining as predicted, it will then rise again to £240m in 2019/20. This follows increases in funding over the past two years.
Regulators NHS England and NHS Improvement instigated the report, called an independent service review, after talks last year with the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) and the Consortium.
Deloitte and ORH Ltd, the report’s authors, were charged with looking at the operational and financial needs of the trust and to also support the development of a more sustainable contracting framework to commission the services.
Ed Garratt, Chief Officer for Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is lead commissioner for the 19 CCGs which pay for EEAST services, 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.
“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.”
Robert Morton, EEAST 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.
“This will take time to do. Extra funding will mean the ambulance service can expand to meet the 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.”
The estimated core service cost requirements are c£225m for 2018/19 and c£240m for 2019/20*. Increased capacity estimates are for circa 330 new whole-time posts and an extra 160 double staffed ambulances (DSAs) on the road by Q4 2019/20. This is on the basis that the ARP standards would be met from Q1 2019/20. These estimates were based on a detailed set of assumptions that were agreed by the Project Steering Group as part of the review. These assumptions are set out in the report, and changes to these assumptions would affect the overall estimates.