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 this year.

The ambulance 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 (CCGs), the GP-led organisations in charge of local NHS budgets.

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

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

He 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.

"Obviously, 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.”