WEST Midlands Ambulance Service has been fined £2.6million for failing to reach life-threatening calls quickly enough.
Under Government targets, paramedics are required to reach 75 per cent of emergencies within eight minutes.
In 2013/14 missed the target in just over one per cent of the most serious call outs such as incidents like strokes, fits and breathing difficulties with bosses blaming an unprecedented demand last year.
The fine has been imposed by the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) which control NHS budgets.
However the majority of the fine – £1.8 million – is being reinvested back into the service to improve response times.
The remaining £800,000 was taken from reserves, and the ambulance service said there would be no impact on patients.
A spokesman added: “To put this in perspective, we missed the target by, on average, only 12 seconds
“There was no impact on patients from the levying of the fine as the trust board agreed to fund the £800,000 from reserves so patient care was protected.
“We welcome the input of commissioners to work in partnership to find solutions to the challenges we face in regard to performance.”
So far, in 2014-15, the service said it had met all its targets.
But Ray Salmon from Unison said it was ‘a kick in the teeth’ to take money away from a service that was already struggling to meet demand and had been reorganising to cope.
He added: “Less money will mean less ambulances and ultimately less emergency responses.
“This decision could be the start of a downward spiral with a future of further fines and reducing ambulance service standards and those who will suffer will be patients and local communities.”