STRUCTURE: The South Central Ambulance Service NHS Trust has been described as the “top performing” ambulance trust in England in its tripartite formal agreement (TFA).

The document, signed by the trust, the South Central strategic health authority and the Department of Health, was submitted to the DH to begin the trust’s formal application for foundation trust status.

It says that the trust is “currently the top performing ambulance trust in England” in its performance against a range of national benchmarks, that it “comfortably achieving category A targets”, and receives a low number of complaints.

The TFA says the trust’s cost improvement plan and quality, innovation, productivity and prevention targets need to be delivered in 2011-12.

In 2010-11 the trust achieved its £5.1m CIP target, from a £136.6m total income, through a combination of £4.1m recurrent savings and £1.9m non-recurrent savings.

Historic difficulties overcoming response targets are significantly better than a year ago, as are “relationships with commissioners.”

The document cautions that “a number of health economies in NHS South Central face financial challenges which are putting pressure on commissioning budgets” and that the “QIPP challenge is significant”.

The TFA also says that the trust’s board, which has been restructured recently, will have to be monitored to ensure it “beds down” and quickly becomes effective.

The trust’s chair is currently an interim appointment.