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EMAS staffing levels "inadequate".

Staffing levels at East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) are inadequate to meet the needs of patients in a "timely manner", a new report says.

The report follows concerns that the NHS trust has been struggling financially and has some of the worst response times in England.

However, the report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says staff are committed to providing high-quality, safe care in spite of low morale and that inspectors also saw some "outstanding practice.”

CQC chief inspector of hospitals, prof Sir Mike Richards,  said EMAS, which serves about 4.8m people across six counties, required improvement.

He said: "There was an unrelenting demand for emergency services combined with a lack of staff and resources to meet requirements.

"We found that, while people were cared for and treated well, there was insufficient staff and a lack of an appropriate mix of skills to meet the needs of patients in a timely manner."

The trust was told it must ensure there are enough emergency vehicles to safely meet demand and response times must also meet the needs of patients by reaching national targets.

In April it was revealed EMAS had overspent by almost £12m in the last financial year and had to take out an additional loan to help with running costs.

Staff were also reported to be under pressure and unable to take scheduled breaks.

EMAS acting chief executive, Richard Henderson, said: "We will be continuing our recruitment campaign. Last year we recruited more than 300 staff and we will be doing the same this year.

"We will be increasing the numbers of vehicles available but, most importantly, we need to ensure we retain our existing workforce."

EMAS said emergency calls had increased and handover delays at hospitals had led to it incurring extra costs.

The service, which covers Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland, has about 2,700 staff and receives approximately 2,000 calls a day.