Crisis plan for failing St Albans ambulance service

Ambulance Service

Ambulance Service - Credit: Archant

AMBULANCE chiefs have unveiled a multi-million pound turnaround plan to improve a service which they admit is letting down both patients and staff.

Earlier this year, the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) which covers Herts, was strongly criticised by care inspectors over delays people had been experiencing waiting for the emergency service to arrive.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) conducted an unannounced inspection of EEAST in January after it had received a number of complaints from patients left waiting for ambulances and staff concerned about how redesigning rotas had not improved their response times.

EEAST was told to produce a report setting out the action it would be taking to improve the situation with the CQC having the option of taking enforcement action if it was not satisfied.

In its turnaround plan, revealed this week, EEAST lists a string of “challenges” it faces including the lack of clear and visible leadership from the board. Other issues included the dearth of front line resources to deliver a good level of service in both urban and rural areas, delays in handing over patients at hospitals and a poor level of staff morale.

But it maintains the situation can be sorted with strong leadership and the “active involvement, support and hard work of everyone in the trust.”

In a statement of change, EEAST says: “We know that we are not where we want to be, especially in terms of how quickly we respond to patients and how we treat our staff.

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“We know that when we get there our staff provide good clinical care with compassion to ptaients. We want to build on this.”

Among the measures it is planning to take are recruiting around 350 new front line staff, tackling staff morale including issues such as late shift finishes, disrupted meal breaks and ambulance back-up and hospital handover delays and moving to a three-sector operational model with devolved responsibility.

That will mean Herts coming under West division which also includes Beds and Cambs with the aim of delivering a tailored service at local level.

EEAST also aims to work with staff to decide the maximum waiting time for a back-up ambulance to arrive on scene to transport a patient to hospital.

Andrew Morgan, interim chief executive of EEAST, said: “We need to improve the service we give to patients and better support our dedicated and committed staff.

“In addition to recruiting more people and putting more vehicles on the road earlier this year, we have developed short and medium term actions and, coupled with our organisation development strategy to better empower staff, these will help to start to transform the service.”