Almost one-third of seriously-ill patients are not being reached by ambulances in South Yorkshire within target times – the worst level in the region.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service has reached 66.7 per cent of patients in a life-threatening condition within their eight minute target time since April.
Performance levels in December were the worst of the year with 56.1 per cent of patients reached within the time limit – compared to 71 per cent in December 2013.
It represents the worst figures in the whole of Yorkshire.
Details were revealed in report going to the trust’s board.
The trust has to meet a national target of reaching 75 per cent of seriously-ill patients within eight minutes or will get fined.
Standards are down since 2013/14, when 74.3 per cent of patients needing urgent attention in South Yorkshire were reached.
Officials from the trust said they have introduced an action plan to tackle problems, while demand for emergency ambulances is increasing.
The trust, which is in the process of making £10 million cuts this year, has forecast it will face financial penalties of almost £4m this year as a result of missing its targets.
Clinical commissioning groups across the county levy the fines.
Jackie Cole, locality director of emergency operations for South Yorkshire at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “December saw unprecedented levels of demand in Yorkshire and the Humber with total demand for emergency ambulances up by almost four per cent on the corresponding period in 2013. ‘Red’ calls to the most seriously ill and injured patients were up by over 18 per cent.
“This equated to an extra 4,500 ‘Red’ incidents requiring an emergency response and, coupled with a busy festive season, this adversely affected our response times.
“So far in January we are seeing a return to expected levels of demand and an improvement in response times. Whilst we are working hard to make further improvements to our response times, it is important to remember that they are not the only measure of the care we provide to patients and our focus remains on delivering safe and high quality services.”
But Unite assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail said: “Paramedics have warned for years that patients’ lives are potentially being put at risk by decisions made at the top of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, but they have been targeted and gagged.
“It’s time for YAS to act and to get its house in order for the sake of the people of Yorkshire and its hard working and dedicated staff.”