Ambulance trust to launch independent review of Norfolk’s under-fire service

PUBLISHED: 11:00 17 November 2012

Ambulances at the accident and emergency department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Angela Sharpe

Ambulances at the accident and emergency department at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Photo: Angela Sharpe

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The region’s under-fire ambulance service is to launch an independent review into its operations in Norfolk.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has faced heavy criticism in recent months over the long delays patients have faced when waiting for ambulances to take them to hospital, as well as for its response times in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, which lag behind the rest of the region.

The Eastern Daily Press, which launched Ambulance Watch in repsonse to mounting concerns around the service’s performance in East Anglia, understands the service is to bring in an independent senior ambulance clinician to review its Norfolk operations, in a bid to restore public confidence and improve its care for patients.

Health minister Norman Lamb, who has been campaigning for a better service for his parliamentary constituents in North Norfolk, said: “I told them they needed to make a specific response to restore public and staff confidence and examine the whole system in Norfolk and make sure they were using their resources efficiently.

“They have now come back to me and have said they are going to establish an independent review by bringing in an independent senior ambulance clinician.”

The clinician who will lead the review has not yet been revealed, as contracts are yet to be signed, but it thought the review will start before Christmas.

Mr Lamb said: “I asked specifically whether they will be engaging with staff and listening to paramedics’ concerns about how the system is operating and they have told me there will be clinical focus groups so that staff can have their say.

“They need to rebuild public confidence and this will be central to their work.

“It’s certainly a very positive move and a recognition that the system need to be addressed and so I welcome their decision to do this.

“But it has to be substantial and have a real look at where things are going wrong.

“I want to see how it’s planned and what the substance will be. I have had answers in the past from the ambulance trust that have not been borne out, so I want to see that this has substance to it.

“Someone from outside will bring a fresh pair of eyes and an independent view which is incredibly important. It’s a way of challenging the system and can crucially get staff back on side.”

The chief executive of the ambulance service, Hayden Newton announced last month that he will be retiring early from his £140,000 role, leaving the trust with the job of finding a new leader to take over.

Trust spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “EEAST can confirm they have commissioned an independent review regarding service delivery in Norfolk and the trust is working on the terms and references for this. There will also be is a wider capacity review in the near future.”

Mr Lamb said a whole review of the urgent care system in Norfolk, dubbed Project Domino, was also taking place as there was recognition that the solution needed to involve other parts of the health care system as well, for example hospitals and primary care.

Don’t miss the EDP next week for the hard-hitting results of our survey on the experience of patients using the East of England Ambulance Trust.


  • From what I witnessed last Sunday the ambulance service would appear to be in chaos. I was watching a football match when one of the players was unfortunately injured, quite seriously, but not life threatening. An ambulance was called and turned up with sirens going some 30 mins later, which was fair enough. But bizarrely the ambulance had only one person aboard and he couldn't stretcher the injured player aboard the ambulance without another colleague there to assist, although there was dozens of people willing to help. So the player was left lying on the previously frozen ground for another 30 mins or so until another ambulance came, again with sirens going. It was only then the injured fellow was put in the ambulance. So it took over an hour, two ambulances, and 3 men to get one person to hospital. Just what is going on?

    Report this comment


    Saturday, November 17, 2012

  • Events as described by IWJS seems to be happening all over the area covered by the trust if reports in other local papers are an indication. If chap A at Southery gets his arm caught in a baler what he wants to see asap is an ambulance fully equipped to get him to hospital in time to save his life or limb. What he doesnt want is the extra delay of a paramedic who might stop the bleeding but still has to call an ambulance. But most especially he does not want some half wit at a call centre diverting the ambulance to Hunstanton because they have been told that yes chap A is conscious and breathing and they use their " judgement" to call chap B as the most serious case. There needs to be ambulances for both. I can't see the justification for spending on paramedics in cars who can only do half a job rather than enough ambulances to cope with emergencies over a large rural area and to get people to hospital quickly. If this means throwing a wobbly at the daft way A&E admissions are processed then we must do that too.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

  • tommy

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

  • An " independent review " is just a play on words. If and when such a review actually reports its findings in a year or so. It will be a total waste of money. And Jono Read, couldn't agree more with your comments about Mr Lamb. It only seeme like yesterday when he appeared on national TV threatening to resign over the handling of the NHS.Now he is part of it. Ah, politicians.

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

  • Daisy Roots - you evidently have no idea how the Ambulance system works. Well over 60% of 999 calls are made by people who DO NOT end up going to hospital. Why should the Ambulance service send a fully crewed Ambulance to those cases - they only need a single Paramedic to respond. You seem to think of Paramedics as nothing more than first-aiders. Do you even know the skillset of a qualified Paramedic and exactly what they can do to save your life? No I thought not.

    Report this comment


    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

  • how do you get a independent senior ambulance clinician? surely this person will be connected to the NHS ambulance service and in my mind wont be totally independent. as for asking the ambulance staff to give thier opinion thats rediculous i bet they would love to give thier honest opinion along with thier names but are thinking of the backlash they would get from thier bosses. leading to any anonymous comments being thrown out just to satisfy this one sided independent review!!!.

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

  • Rota shakeup and moving to rapid response vehicles were meant to improve the service according to bosses. How reassuring they're now having to have a review! As for Norman Lamb another example of him shifting the blame for cuts away from him. Take some responsibility, Lamb.

    Report this comment


    Saturday, November 17, 2012

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


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