East of England Ambulance service faces further flak in new report

Ambulance Service

Ambulance Service - Credit: Archant

MORE concerns about the management of the ambulance trust which covers Herts have been voiced in an independent review.

It was commissioned by the NHS Trust Development Authority in response to a damning report on the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The new review was headed up by Dr Anthony Marsh, chief executive of another ambulance trust, and it has come up with a number of findings, many of which relate to the management team at EEAST.

CQC carried out an unannounced inspection of EEAST in January following complaints from patients left waiting for ambulances and staff concerns about how redesigning rotas had not improved response times.

Among Dr Marsh’s findings was that a grassroots approach to rectifying and improving the reputation of EEAST should be undertaken as a priority and management arrangements could not have been adequate for the trust to get into such difficulty.

The report praises EEAST for its “highly committed, professional, caring managers and staff who really want to do their best for patients and be part of a successful organisation”.

But the current leadership of EEAST was not strong enough to take the trust forward and there was a lack of focus and grip from the board which had contributed towards the deterioration of its performance.

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Among other concerns in the report were the need to improve internal and external communications, frontline staff should be told about changes both promptly and clearly to reduce stress and pressure on them and cut sickness levels and there should be a robust recruitment plan.

Gary Applin, Unison branch secretary at EEAST, said that there were still problems at the trust and many had got worse.

He went on: “It is extremely worrying that seven years after the trust was formed by the merger of three smaller ambulance services, Dr Marsh found lots of evidence that it is still not a cohesive organisation and has three operational cultures.”

EEAST’s new chairman, Dr Geoff Harris, said that one of his first tasks, with the board, was to review the findings of the report and respond to the NHS Trust Development Authority.

He pledged that any changes which were required to the EEAST turnaround plan published in April would be implemented promptly.