Ambulance Watch: Trust boss on why he has decided to retire
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.
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.