Ambulance chiefs warned that there was no quick fix to addressing failures at the East of England Ambulance Service after it emerged that it was unlikely to hit response targets for the next two months.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

High staff sickness rates, an increase in calls this winter, and hospital handover delays have led to the NHS trust failing to meet its two key targets for responding to the most urgent 999 calls, bosses said.

Members of the ambulance trust’s board met in public for the first time in 2013 yesterday and pledged to address the service’s “unacceptable” performance.

The East of England Ambulance Service, which covers six counties, announced last week that it was putting 15 extra ambulances on the roads and is recruiting almost 200 new paramedics and emergency care assistants. However, the under-fire service is failing to hit its target for reaching 75pc of the most urgent cases in eight minutes and is missing its A19 target for getting to 95pc of incidents in 19 minutes.

The failure led to the health regulator – the Care Quality Commission – finding the trust non-compliant when it comes to the care and welfare of patients when it made an unannounced inspection of its Cambourne headquarters, near Cambridge, last month.

Interim chief executive Andrew Morgan yesterday told board members that improving response times, staff morale and restoring public confidence were key priorities and added that they were looking to reapply for foundation trust status in the next six to nine months.

However, the trust was unlikely to hit its response targets by the end of the financial year when primary care trusts are abolished and Clinical Commissioning Groups take over, he said.

“We are not hitting the response times we should be hitting and there are issues with staff morale and staff empowerment. This current performance is unacceptable and we need to address the variation of patches. It is more difficult to hit standards in rural areas than it is in urban areas.

“We are already in a difficult position with commissioners who want us to hit it this month and we are not hitting it and it will be a real challenge to hit it in March,” he said.

Mr Morgan added that sickness levels at the NHS trust, which employs 4,000 people, were limiting the organisation’s ability to improve performance. The board meeting was told total sickness levels were at 9.66pc – almost double what management expected. The organisation also received 260 complaints from members of the public between November and January, with 135 of those because of ambulance delays.

A controversial rota redesign is on course to be concluded by March 31, with the exception of Cromer, Loughton and North Walsham, officials said.

Responses are worst in Norfolk where in 10 months last year just 64pc of eight-minute target calls were responded to within the time frame. In Suffolk, 67pc of A8 calls were reached within eight minutes while the figure for Cambridgeshire was 68pc.

Mr Morgan added: “We get 18,000 calls a week and that is a huge number. Some people do wait too long for an ambulance to arrive. It is not good for patients and the crew member waiting for back-up to arrive. It is a very small percentage of calls, but it could be your family or mine.”

11 comments

  • Last November the EDP carried an artcle pointing out that the EEAST had increased spending on lease cars for 60 NON-MEDICAL managers. Is there a clue here for what is wrong with this organisation? What do 60 managers senior enough to qualify for a lease car do - except count beans? They certainly do not appear to be contributing to the medical frontline - perhaps the EEAST could be asked to explain in another EDP article. Roy Gooch's comments are spot on about sickness levels reflecting poor management.

    Report this comment

    JB

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Good to hear that the interim CE is as bad as the last CE. Mr Morgan, it is not a small percentage it is over one third (maybe some maths training should be included in their excellent training programme they were boasting about last week) for the targets quoted and it is not just in Norfolk is it. High sickness levels are always achieved where ineffective Directors and Managers are employed and the staff are not utilised effectively. This is called HR management in case you are not aware. The sooner these heads are rolled the better for all of us. It is time that this (dis)organisation was split up and replaced as the decisions being made are not effective and are not sustainable. Their contract should be ended immediately.

    Report this comment

    Roy Gooch

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • No good blaming anyone at the EEAST - the crisis was born 100% in Westminster by the ConDem's cuts.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • My husband had a heart attack 5weeks ago they sent a crew from bradwell which took them 30mins to get here. buy they got here it was to late.we live in stokesby there is sation at near to us why do they not send one from there .It is not the fault of the crews as they did there best.I think the fault lies in the system.This was the first time I have ever had to call on the service which does not make me feel very happy.

    Report this comment

    Ann Bacon

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • No doubt the management of this organisation is bloated and in need of a shake up. Perhaps too many chiefs. Howver, when a government cuts and cuts funding as have the Tories, willingly backed by MrLamb and his pals, the end result must be a poor service. You get what you pay for. It is disgusting that such a necessary front line service is treated this way. Could it be part of the Tory dream, to let the service wither until it has to rescued by a private service? The ultimate goal a privatised NHS ?

    Report this comment

    norman hall

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Last November the EDP carried an artcle pointing out that the EEAST had increased spending on lease cars for 60 NON-MEDICAL managers. Is there a clue here for what is wrong with this organisation? What do 60 managers senior enough to qualify for a lease car do - except count beans? They certainly do not appear to be contributing to the medical frontline - perhaps the EEAST could be asked to explain in another EDP article. Roy Gooch's comments are spot on about sickness levels reflecting poor management.

    Report this comment

    JB

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Last November the EDP carried an artcle pointing out that the EEAST had increased spending on lease cars for 60 NON-MEDICAL managers. Is there a clue here for what is wrong with this organisation? What do 60 managers senior enough to qualify for a lease car do - except count beans? They certainly do not appear to be contributing to the medical frontline - perhaps the EEAST could be asked to explain in another EDP article. Roy Gooch's comments are spot on about sickness levels reflecting poor management.

    Report this comment

    JB

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Good news for Norman Lamb. He can both carry on obtaining the headlines he wants for relatively little work, while the press ask no demanding questions about his position in the Department of Health or the NHS cuts he supports.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • This is a big worry for patients and I can only commend the response I received recently but these early symptoms need working on immediately,every second counts.As in all things early intervention really does matter.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Too many over paid chiefs and not enough well supported front line staff. Give the paramedics the support and the funding and they will deliver a better service.

    Report this comment

    Tractorboy

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • That's right JB, but I doubt Lamb and Hunt would have it any other way. What happened to the big announcement of 15 'new' ambulances, I thought that was the quick fix? What it turned out to be is a pipe dream, and having been misled we find we are no further forward. The excuses given by the 'bosses' are a smoke screen. Do they not have the balls to say it is inadequate state funding that's to blame? Not that they will get anywhere chasing Lamb and friends for more money; Cameron is too busy worrying about Brussel's proposals to cap bonuses for top tory donors in the City.

    Report this comment

    Police Commissioner ???

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 13°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT