THE East of England Ambulance Service has been fined £1.2million over failures to reach three quarters of life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes.

The trust handles more than 900,000 emergency 999 calls a year in Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

It has also been fined £300,000 over turnaround times at hospitals.

The new fines, totalling £1.5million, have built up over three months from April to July.

The trust must pay the £300,000 fine now and the £1.2million at the end of the financial year.

It serves 19 clinical commissioning groups, the GP-led organisations in charge of local NHS budgets.

The fines will be distributed among the groups, according to the percentage of their payment to the ambulance service contract.

The lead commissioners are the Ipswich and East and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group.

Wendy Tankard, its chief contracts officer, said the ambulance consortia members had contributed £9.5million to support the trust’s programme to ensure targets were met above their contract commitments. She said: “They will continue to incur financial consequences if performance standards are not met.’’ Dr Anthony Marsh became o chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service in January.

A spokesman for the service said it was working hard to turn it around, such as recruiting hundreds of frontline staff, bringing in new emergency ambulances and upskilling staff, while making £10million of savings.

The spokesman said: “We are really pleased with the support from our clinical commissioning groups, especially in the significant investment they have put into the ambulance service this year to enable us to make some of these changes.

“As we get closer to the end of the year, we will be working closely with commissioners to discuss the impact of any fines and how these might be managed.”