Ambulance Watch: Health minister defends ambulance boss over pay criticism

Norman Lamb MP, pictured at Blakeney Hotel.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Norman Lamb MP, pictured at Blakeney Hotel. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
6:30 AM

A health minister leapt to the defence of the region’s ambulance boss last night by saying it would be a “disaster” if the CEO left his post because of pressure over his salary.

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

The wage of Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) and West Midlands Ambulance Service, hit national headlines last month after it emerged that his annual earnings had risen to more than £232,000.

However, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who is also the government’s care minister, said Dr Marsh was the best man for the job to turn around the fortunes of the under-performing ambulance service and it was “essential” that the East of England kept him.

Mr Lamb added that he had no involvement in the appointment of the senior ambulance chief and he was not aware of the size of the chief executive’s salary.

He added that he had a great deal of confidence in the work that Dr Marsh was doing to transform EEAST and what had been a “seriously dysfunctional organisation” needed stability.

Dr Marsh, who has been criticised for his £400 a week taxi bills, began his twin hatter role in January after conducting a damning review into the management of the East of England service.

Mr Lamb said: “It is essential we keep him. I would prefer to pay one good leader a salary to secure him rather than pay vast amounts of public money on excessive management levels on a poor service. We now have a leadership that has a fighting chance of transforming a service for local patients.”

“He is doing a tough and necessary job to ensure money is being spent on the front-line on paramedics. It would be a disaster for the ambulance service and patients if he was driven out of the job,” he said.

Dr Marsh’s salary was described as “unacceptable” and “quite obscene” by junior health minister and MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter who pledged to raise the issue with the two ambulance trusts and Earl Howe, who is responsible for the ambulance service at the Department of Health.

Mr Lamb added that the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) was responsible for the appointment of the experienced CEO.

“The TDA was in a situation where the trust has been mismanaged in my view and it was in crisis in my view. They tried to recruit and they failed and so the TDA looked at the possibility of using an existing experienced manager doubling up his role and that makes sense and he [Anthony Marsh] and he is the most experienced ambulance leader in the country.”

“I have been lobbying as a constituent MP on behalf of constituents for a good ambulance service and to get the trust turned around. I had no idea what salary he was on.”

“In the last decade pay levels generally in the NHS in some areas have become excessive. I see very high salaries being paid often in the non delivery part of the service and the regulator and national bodies that run the various parts of the NHS and I feel very strongly there needs to be real restraint shown,” he said.

An EDP poll on Dr Marsh’s pay has witnessed a change in voting with 76pc of respondents (362 people) saying his salary was justified, if he turns around the performance of the NHS trust, and 24pc (115 people) said it was not justified.

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

9 comments

  • Front line front line the be all and end all, what about the poor souls in the back office that also work through lunches, come in early, leave off late due to staff shortages and not given a second thought, only to be told their job is not in the restructure and they are to be made redundant !!!!

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    Wife

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Sorry - When I said full wage for CEO of Norfolk I mean EEAST as it covers six counties, Beds, Cams, Essex, Herts, Norfolk and Suffolk

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    TG

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • It doesn't need an overpaid civil servant to come to the conclusion that what was needed was investment in our services. Anybody could do that for one tenth his obscene salary

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    weaversway

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Could The EDP please ask Norman Lamb what his view is on EEAST losing the non-urgent patient transport contract for Norfolk to American owned ERS. Is this part of the turn-around plan?

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    Sugarbeet

    Thursday, August 21, 2014

  • Jeffrey - It may not be as bright as people would wish for but the alternative is having a full CEO for Norfolk only on that wage for Norfolk? He is being paid that amount in total for West Mids and EEAST isn't he? The money saved is being put towards more frontline equipment and staff. Marsh has had to replace the poor expensive equipment that was purchased by the previous permanent CEO hence the new fleet of ambulances for half the price of the latest model being used currently. Marsh has given the paramedics some hope and confidence that things will improve – I know as I have worked with them recently. “Some staff are missing meal breaks” this is the weakness between not enough staff, not enough equipment, A&E Depts not big enough, and misuse of the 999 111 calls. No matter who the “Big Boss” is this needs to be better managed by their immediate supervisors on the ground. Although it doesn’t help them get their meal on time they do get a payment for meals missed. And perhaps this sounds harsh but they need a flask for a cup of tea coffee. It’s only free at their base when they restock and not provided at the hospitals. You said yourself in the past that “If people think getting rid of management will solve our problems they are very short sighted.” I’m sure his predecessors were claiming more benefits than have been shown here.

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    TG

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Well when redundancies are kicking in, TG, not everyone feels so bright and optimistic as you. Especially not when it comes from a man on £232,000 with a £400 a week chauffeur drive and who appoints his friends to the top. Factor in the fact some staff are missing meal breaks and having to pay for cups of tea the picture is less than rosy.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Archant reporters aren't going to be happy until they see the service fail again. Let Dr Marsh and his staff get on with turning the service around as no doubt you are causing a distraction with the constant sniping.

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    TG

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • Norman Lamb sees high wages in non delivery parts of the service, well that includes DR (?) Marsh as he has failed to deliver in West Midlands after 6+ years in charge.

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    Stan

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

  • It's taken two weeks of silence before he tells us he knew nothing? Strange. The TDA said they engaged with MPs but the Health Minister had no idea?

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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