THE organisation in charge of NHS services in north Essex is to withhold cash from the ambulance service after it repeatedly missed targets.

The East of England Ambulance Service has been slammed for failing to get to patients quickly enough, hospital handover delays and poor staffing levels.

Now, the North East Essex clinical commissioning group has agreed to follow colleagues in Cambridgeshire by withdrawing funding.

It could not reveal how much funding will be withdrawn.

The bulk of the figure will be calculated on overall performance and a smaller part will be worked out from the service’s turnaround at local hospitals.

A group spokesman said: “The CCG with our partners in the east area are working together closely with the ambulance service to make sure its performance improves for patients in Colchester and Tendring.

“The standard NHS contract we have with the ambulance provider has financial consequences for failing to meet performance.

“Together, as CCGs contracting for these services for our patients we will use this money and this leverage to urgently improve ambulance performance.

“We will continue to monitor the performance of the ambulance service to ensure improvements are made and sustained.

“We have confidence the service is taking the right measures to get to the standards we require, but in the interests of our patients we will keep the pressure on.”