Ambulance Watch: 999 boss pledges to start hitting key response targets by the end of the year

East of England Ambulance Service Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams East of England Ambulance Service Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

Thursday, July 17, 2014
6:30 AM

The chief executive of the region’s ambulance said he was confident that the under-performing organisation would start to hit key response targets by the end of the year as it nears a recruitment goal.

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The challenges of the job

Dr Marsh, who has worked for ambulance trusts for almost 30 years, said he had found the job as East of England Ambulance Service CEO more difficult than he expected.

Dr Marsh, who remains as West Midlands Ambulance Service chief executive, said it had been an exciting seven months, but more challenges were on the horizon.

“Having worked in the East of England previously and worked on the report, I thought I knew exactly what I was taking on and I know to a large extent. It has been more difficult and more challenging. We know what the problem and the actions are, but implementing that as quickly I would like to has been an enormous challenge.”

“The staff have really responded to the challenge and too long they have suffered with insufficient staffing and a leadership team that did not listen to them. They are stepping forward to transform this ambulance service to the best in England and I am confident we will achieve our goals. I am contracted to work three days, but I do more than full-time hours and I do not want anyone thinking they have a part-time chief executive.”

Anthony Marsh, who conducted a damning review into the management of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) last year, said he was convinced that the NHS trust could go from the worst to the best performing ambulance service in the country.

The CEO executive, who became the part-time boss of the East of England service in January, said that his transformation plan was well on track after offering contracts to more than 330 of the 400 student paramedics he set out to recruit this year.

He added that dozens of extra double staffed ambulances were now operating across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire and the trust was on course to recruit 50 graduate paramedics this year and offer more training and career progression opportunities to emergency care assistants and technicians.

Dr Marsh said that front-line staff were working “flat out” to respond to patients as quickly as possible. However, there was still work to do before the organisation could start hitting its trust-wide target of responding to 75pc of the most life-threatening 999 calls within eight minutes and get an ambulance to 95pc to the most urgent cases within 19 minutes. He added that it would take another two years to turn around the fortunes of EEAST.

Control room pledge

The region’s ambulance service, which covers six counties, has control rooms in Norwich, Chelmsford and Bedford, which are responsible for receiving 999 phone calls and dispatching the appropriate front-line resources.

Dr Marsh said he had no plans to make any immediate changes to the NHS trust’s three control rooms, but pledged to always retain a centre in Norfolk.

“The control rooms are an integral part of the emergency response system. If we do not adequately deal with 999 calls correctly and do not send the adequate resources then we will always struggle. I can give an absolute commitment to a control room in Norfolk.”

“Until we have a stable 999 service we will not change anything with our control rooms and for the next two years we will continue to have at least three control rooms. When we have all the paramedics in position and fully trained and start to hit targets we can take a view on what the organisation requires for the long-term,” he said.

The Norwich control room is based in Hospital Lane, in Hellesdon, and answers all ambulance related 999 calls from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

“We have an ambition to achieve the eight minute target by the end of the year and the 19 minute target by March next year. I am confident that we can do that. It depends on whether we can recruit the staff we have set out and what sort of winter we have and the increase in 999 calls,” he said.

EEAST had hundreds of paramedic vacancies and more than 300 students were waiting to complete their training at the start of the year.

Dr Marsh said he was “surprised and hugely disappointed” that the leadership of the NHS trust did not fully adopt the recommendations from his governance review last year, which urged bosses to stop recruiting emergency care assistants and to hire more student paramedics and graduates.

“Put simply we do not have enough staff and that has not changed since the day I arrived. I set out to hire 400 student paramedics and we have offered 338 contracts of employment to fill those 400 student paramedic roles. 100 are already in training and I am confident that in the next few weeks we will have offered all 400 contracts, which will have started training by January. It is the most ambitious recruitment training programme of any ambulance service,” he said.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve AdamsEast of England Ambulance Service Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

On the retention of qualified front-line staff, he said: “I do recognise that in the East of England we have lost more paramedics than the national average and I am trying to create an organisation where we attract the best people and retain the best people. This year we will probably lose 180 and the national average is 140 to 150.”

Have you got a story about the ambulance service? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

6 comments

  • ladyboy69.can we have a picky of the crew putting a large sack of spuds in the ambulance please,,oh and where in drayton can I buy a large bag of them please...

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    999gsi

    Tuesday, July 22, 2014

  • This Ambulance crew were out shopping for 25kg bags of Potatoes in Drayton in company time, and a complaint made to your employers !!! good advert isn't it, photo taken and has been made public.. making yourselves look good !!

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    Footyboy16

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

  • ladyboy69..there was a fire engine at the copper beech on thurs evening..the crew had just finished a meal..i was there... but hey..they do work hard hard don't they....

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    999gsi

    Sunday, July 20, 2014

  • Footyboy16

    Saturday, July 19, 2014

  • WMAS are living dangerously on the edge of bankruptcy but as they are hitting targets the government don't care, because targets = votes. EEAS cannot afford all these new staff and vehicles, further to that, staff moral is still just as low and if they do manage to recruit these 400 paramedics, most will last <5 years. (<3 years for uni trained paramedics). May hit targets by end of year, but will soon be missing them by end of January.

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    Panda

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

  • The new CEO says he will start hitting key response targets by the end of the year, he has had 6+ years as WMAS chief and had recently got a hefty fine for failing to meet these same targets but then comes to EEAS to assist them in meeting theirs. He then states he will turn them from the worst Ambulance service in the country to the best, obviously at the detriment of his other current employer WMAS, oh how they must love him!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Stan

    Thursday, July 17, 2014

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

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