East of England Ambulance Service requires improvement, watchdog concludes

PUBLISHED: 08:28 16 July 2018

The CQC has rated the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust as requires improvement. Picture: Casey Gutteridge

The CQC has rated the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust as requires improvement. Picture: Casey Gutteridge

Archant

Our region’s ambulance service is failing to meet legal requirements when it comes to safe care and treatment, staffing and governance – according to health watchdog the Care Quality Commission.

Robert Morton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service.Robert Morton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service.

The CQC has rated the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust as ‘requires improvement’ in a report published this month, following an inspection in March.

The report says: “The trust did not meet national ambulance response standards.

“There remained an identified capacity gap between the staff currently employed by the trust and the number needed to meet increasing demands for services.”

Inspectors were not assured the ambulance trust made sure staff were competent to work in their roles.

They also raised concern over high sickness rates – with staff describing a culture of low morale, late shift finishes and disengagement between frontline staff and senior management.

However, inspectors rated the service’s caring as outstanding. “Staff displayed outstanding patient-centred care and we saw evidence of staff going the extra mile to ensure patients were cared for,” the report says.

“Staff worked together for the benefit of patients and cared for them with compassion, treating them with dignity and respect.”

In January, a whistleblower claimed at least 40 patients were harmed or died due to ambulance delays over Christmas and new year.

A risk summit involving NHS England identified a raft of key actions, including deploying additional staff and vehicles.

In May, the 19 clinical commissioners in the east of England agreed a six-year contract with the ambulance service which will see a rise in funding from £213.5m in 2017/18 to £225m in 2018/19 and up to £240m in 2019/20.

An extra 330 staff and 160 ambulances will be sought over the next three years.

Capital funding of £6.5 million has also been secured as part of a nationwide funding boost for the NHS’s 70th birthday from the Department of Health and Social Care, and will be used to create a network of modern hubs and community ambulance stations at 10 sites, including Stevenage.

Chief executive Robert Morton said: “The team inspected our trust during the most challenging winter for the NHS on record. Staff were extremely tired and under pressure.

“There will always be room for improvement and we are aware of the many challenges we face. With the right investment we will get better and better.”

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