Written complaints to the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) have nearly doubled in just two years, new figures reveal.

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The trust, which is trying to make efficiency savings of more than £50m over the next five years, received 686 grievances in 2011/12, compared with 356 two years ago. But EEAS said it has seen a 6pc hike in call numbers and that it has received nearly 2,000 compliments over the same period.

The ambulance service has been heavily criticised in the past couple of years for its under performance in meeting response times in rural areas. It is currently embarking on a controversial and radical redesign of where its response vehicles will be based, and what hours of cover they will provide.

A spokesman for EEAS said: “Last year – April 2011 to March 2012 – we received 686 complaints, representing less than 0.2pc of our total activity, which compared to nearly three times the number of compliments at 1,902 along with thank-you donations totalling more than £130,000.

“As well as a call rise of more than 6pc, issues related to the increase in complaints include public perception not matching the responsibility of the 999 service, with the majority of response time complaints relating to non-urgent patients, where the response target time is one hour, as well as hospital handover delays.

“Work is continuing with hospitals and the local primary care trusts to help resolve this issue and reduce the pressure on the ambulance service, enabling us to reach our patients more quickly.

“We are also embarking on a public education programme to better inform patients of our response time targets for different call priorities.

“We have robust investigation procedures in place to ensure that learning from the experiences of our patients, positive and negative, can help us improve our service and prevent any adverse incidents from recurring.”

The complaints figures, released by the NHS, show the James Paget in Gorleston had the biggest increase over the last three years for Norfolk and Suffolk hospitals, from 331 complaints in 2009/10 to 439 in 2001/12.

The corresponding figures for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn were 458 rising to 516, for the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital they were 744 and 751, and for the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds 215 to 180.

12 comments

  • The ambulance staff do a great job but it has been obvious for some time they need more resources. The government instead is implementing NHS cuts which will mean Norfolk will have 9 fewer ambulances. Please sign the Act on Ambulances against the moves - actonambulances.co.uk

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    Jono

    Monday, September 3, 2012

  • All seems very strange to me. In my limited experience of private contracts, a project or service is put out to tender and a contractor bids and is selected to do what the client demands for what they are prepared to pay.Then the client has quality control in place to make sure the contractor complies with the terms of the contract. If I have got a handle on this, EofEAS is being given the (our) money and allowed to jiggle the service they provide in order to maximise their profits at the expense of the service. The question is why would anyone let a service be run like that?

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • @Footyboy16 - It proves how little you know about this matter if you are going to start blaming the frontline staff. The trust itself is to blame - the management team as a whole. The Paramedics, Technicians and ECAs on the frontline do the best they can with what they have - they often work in extremely difficult situations and often end up missing or giving up their breaks. So what if they were walking into Tescos to get some lunch? They do have to eat! The fact that you took your wife home at first glance would suggest it would have been a non-emergency - perhaps something you could have gone to the GP for or a walk in centre for? If it was a genuine emergency then how many times did you call back? I am assuming as you complained that you have now resolved your issue? All I can say is that the frontline staff do the absolute best they can. The dispatch staff also do the best they can but they only have limited resources - if they have 20 Category A calls and they only have 30 vehicles available then theres no way they can get to all the Category C calls within the minutes that everyone expects - yes 3 hours is excessive but there must have been a reason behind it.... unfortunately government cuts really don't help!

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    Chris B

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • it was norman lamb who said the conservatives couldnt be trusted with our nhs. in the last two years he has supported the plans for privatisation and has voted to cut our ambulance service. the truth is he is no better than a tory when it comes to the nhs!

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    nhs lover

    Monday, September 3, 2012

  • I don't dispute that your wife was unwell, that much is clear. What I do dispute is your understanding of how the Ambulance service works. As Chris B states, there are finite resources. I hope they deal with your complaint accordingly. Stating that you will exaggerate symptoms in the future to make you a priority, is a dangerous game to play with other people's lives. So while they are forced to come to your "emergency" they can't get to the genuine patient who has stopped breathing and heart has stopped a few streets away. Come on, common sense please.

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    swnorwich

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • I think it's unfair to blame the ambulance staff - they only go to jobs they are sent on, it isn't as if they get to choose which jobs they go to. The criticism should be aimed at those who decide what resources are out on the road, and where they are sent.

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    PixieDust

    Monday, September 3, 2012

  • @Footyboy16 - It proves how little you know about this matter if you are going to start blaming the frontline staff. The trust itself is to blame - the management team as a whole. The Paramedics, Technicians and ECAs on the frontline do the best they can with what they have - they often work in extremely difficult situations and often end up missing or giving up their breaks. So what if they were walking into Tescos to get some lunch? They do have to eat! The fact that you took your wife home at first glance would suggest it would have been a non-emergency - perhaps something you could have gone to the GP for or a walk in centre for? If it was a genuine emergency then how many times did you call back? I am assuming as you complained that you have now resolved your issue? All I can say is that the frontline staff do the absolute best they can. The dispatch staff also do the best they can but they only have limited resources - if they have 20 Category A calls and they only have 30 vehicles available then theres no way they can get to all the Category C calls within the minutes that everyone expects - yes 3 hours is excessive but there must have been a reason behind it.... unfortunately government cuts really don't help!

    Report this comment

    Chris B

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • Footyboy16- How do you know they were Paramedics buying their lunch? They could have been a private ambulance service, or non-emergency transport people, or control staff - they all wear the same uniform. You took your wife home? Why was an Ambulance needed then? Ambulances take people to hospital?

    Report this comment

    swnorwich

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • East of England Ambulance Service Trust is exactly that an NHS Trust - they do not aim to make a profit at all.... it is not them that controls how much money they get given! EEAST do subcontract some work out to private providers who are independent ambulance providers - those companies aim to make a profit but EEAST itself doesnt aim to make a profit ......

    Report this comment

    Chris B

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • "swnorwich" in response to your comment, my wife works at the store, a member of staff was waiting at the entrance of the store for the arrival of an ambulance to treat my wife, the 2 paramedics who entered the store were challenged by that member of staff who witnessed the Emergency NHS Ambulance turn up and park, the 2 paramedic's were then challenged to see if they were there for that call, and they replied No they are there for their lunch.. The Ambulance control could not even give an estimated time of arrival after 3hrs of waiting, and advised us to go home, and call our GP out as the A&E was to busy apparently,the GP attended but he was too late. I am afraid to say they have now made a rod for their own backs. The Ambulance was called and they failed simple as... if an ambulance is ever required in the future then they will be told the symptons are worse than they are to gurantee an arrival..

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    Footyboy16

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

  • The East Of England Ambulance Service is a joke, and I hope all paramedic's and ambulance staff are embarrassed at their performances, my wife laid in Tesco's at Harford Bridge for nearly 3 hours on the 19th June,2012 and an ambulance never did turn up, and we had to take my wife home, minutes after leaving the store 2 paramedic's entered the store to buy samdwiches for their lunch. unbelievable. we wrote a letter of complaint and it took 59 days for them to reply. they say they reply within 25 days another joke..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Monday, September 3, 2012

  • It just seems to get worse and worse. When will Hayden Newton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service be held to account. He has consistently failed to deliver on his targets year after year. Any other public servant would have been forced to retire "to spend more time with the family"? Who is this man accountable to ? When will action be taken to get rid of this man, who is ruining OUR Ambulance Service ?

    Report this comment

    Farquarson-Smythe

    Monday, September 3, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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