The head of the under-fire East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) announced his retirement yesterday afternoon, three days after the EDP launched a campaign to highlight failings within the Trust.

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Chief executive Hayden Newton said he would leave the EEAST within the next six months after five years at the helm.

On Friday the EDP launched the Ambulance Watch campaign following worrying reports of delays in response times.

But Mr Newton, who handed in his notice to the board last Monday, said he was leaving to look for “a new focus” in his life.

Staff were informed yesterday afternoon in Mr Newton’s weekly email called Hayden’s blog.

In the email, seen by the EDP, he said: “I am sure there will be mixed views out there, however, I have always tried to protect staff as much as possible, be there to listen to your views and seek an early resolution to many of your issues.”

Mr Newton added he had been in talks with the Trust’s board and chairman for “some time” over his departure.

He said: “With the year-end close upon us it is now the right time to put this decision into action.”

Last month it was revealed members of the GMB union had written to the Trust’s chairman expressing no confidence in Mr Newton.

And one staff member told the EDP last night: “We are absolutely over the moon, but I don’t know what is going to come out of it.”

In a statement, Mr Newton said: “EEAST is a great place to work. We have outstanding staff who work hard to deliver the best possible service to our patients who call us when they are in their greatest need.

“Now I am nearing my retirement age, I think the time is right to pass the baton on to a new chief executive while I look for a new focus in my life.”

Health minister and North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb warned against a delay in appointing Mr Newton’s replacement.

He said: “Clearly he, and the organisation, have been under pressure and I think it may be that that pressure has had some effect on his decision.

“I have always got on very well with him, but ultimately the service is not working effectively in Norfolk.

“You have very dedicated paramedics, but we are not making efficient use of resources that are available.

“My frustration is that having raised the issues of very slow response times a year ago, I had real assurances then that things would improve and a year on they have not resolved the problems in Norfolk.”

Chairman of EEAST Maria Ball said Mr Newton would be “greatly missed” by the Trust.

She said: “I have personally known Hayden for more than 12 years and I continue to admire his energy, integrity, commitment and absolute passion for ambulance services.

“Hayden has been an excellent chief executive and under his leadership the Trust has made real progress.

“Our clinical support desks are saving around 900 ambulance unnecessary dispatches every week, paramedic numbers have increased significantly under his leadership and more frontline staff continue to be recruited to nearly double the number since he took over in 2007 when the Trust faced significant financial issues.”

Mr Newton began his career in the ambulance service more than 30 years ago and went on to become a paramedic. He worked for ambulance services across the county and became director of operations for the Scottish Ambulance Service and then the chief executive of Kent Ambulance Service.

tom.bristow@archant.co.uk

4 comments

  • Chairman of EEAST Maria Ball said "Our clinical support desks are saving around 900 ambulance unnecessary dispatches every week" and yet when one IS needed (elderly lady fell in bathroom, head injury, arm trapped, in pain, unable to move on cold hard floor) she had to wait for over an hour, a second call after waiting for 45 minutes got the call upgraded to a 'blues and twos', still took another 20 minutes though!

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    catalonia13

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

  • norman lamb appears to have stabbed hayden newton in the back. he voted for cuts to the ambulance service and to the nhs leaving the service no budget to make improvements. then he tells mr newton he hasn't done a very good job!

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    nhs lover

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

  • I can only say that after the events of yesterday I am pleased that the man at the helm has decided to call it a day. After waiting for an ambulance for almost 6 hours to take my frail 91 year old mother the 4 miles to the hospital there must be something fundamentally wrong with the service.Despite at least 5 telephone conversations with staff members we were left with no alternative but to request an escalation of our situation & an ambulance finally arrived at 22:10; this is despite the fact that we were told at about 20:50 when in desperation we dialled 999 and were told that an ambulance was on its way with blue lights & sirens.Just how far the vehicle had to travel in 1 hour 20 minutes does not bear thinking about. When we finally arrived at the hospital there were any number of ambulances & their crews waiting to have their patients admitted; surely there could be a system devised whereby they could pass their patients to an admission reception point & then get back to doing what they are employed to do i.e. collect sick & accident victims.

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    Rod Steward

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

  • Norman Lamb's comment confirms that despite all the warm words, the concerns people have about response times remain. If you can'tdon'twon't deliver then it is time to go. I hope someone else can restore public faith in this vital organisation.

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    a fine city

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

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

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