A lack of paramedics has meant none of the 15 extra ambulances which started work yesterday was operating at full capacity.

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The introduction of the ambulances by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) was heralded last week as a step in the right direction by the under-fire service.

The spare vehicles, which have been in storage around the region, were re-kitted and cleaned last week.

But a lack of paramedics willing to work overtime and staff the vehicles has meant that the 15 ambulances are not in full operation.

Seven of the vehicles began work in Norfolk and north Suffolk yesterday, but ambulance bosses admitted they had not managed to get any of them fully up and running.

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “The extra ambulances have all been delivered to their stations but we are finding it a real challenge at the moment to fill all the shifts because we are reliant on staff overtime until our new recruits are on board over the coming few weeks.

“However, we are very keen to see the vehicles all operating at capacity so are looking at all possible opportunities to make this happen as quickly as possible.”

She said 114 emergency care assistants and 25 paramedics were due to start work at the service before the end of March.

She added the vehicles were not ones which had previously been cut and dismissed fears that the additional vehicles were merely a temporary measure.

In an email sent to staff last week seen by the Eastern Daily Press, the trust’s interim chief executive, Andrew Morgan, described the lack of double-staffed ambulances as “unacceptable” and apologised the trust had got into such a position.

He said: “On my visits around the patch I have had many discussions with you about the resources we have available to deal with emergency calls and I am clear that we do not currently have enough double staffed ambulances out on the road. We are tackling the situation in many ways by recruiting more staff, trying to better match staff availability to demand, giving more power to local managers to deliver the right service for their area, working with hospitals to reduce turnaround times and addressing productivity, efficiency and sickness issues. All of this work will continue and must deliver results.”

The trust has around 270 intensive care ambulances, and campaigners for better response times questioned how much of a difference 15 vehicles would make.

Gary Applin, branch secretary for Unison, said he “cautiously welcomed” the introduction of the ambulances, but added ambulance numbers should rise with the increasing number of calls the service was getting in the east of England.

Five of the ambulances will be in Norfolk and Denise Burke, North Norfolk Labour Party chairman, who led the Act on Ambulances petition, said the announcement was a “U-turn”.

The extra ambulance in Cromer means the town now has the same level of cover as before last year’s cuts. She said: “It still does not give us the extra ambulances the public wanted to see before the cuts. When we met both the previous and current chief executives of the trust, they were adamant they could not fund extra resources without making cuts elsewhere. So how is this announcement being funded given government cuts, and for how long?

“The additional resource on the roads this week is also dependent on how many paramedics are prepared to work overtime. We know the staff are already overstretched and trying to cope with new rota redesigns.”

The East of England Ambulance Service’s announcement on Wednesday that double-staffed vehicles would be deployed to key towns followed pressure from the EDP’s Ambulance Watch campaign.

Towns they will cover include Cromer, Dereham, Diss, Downham Market, Potter Heigham, Beccles and Mildenhall.

10 comments

  • What a surprise ? The EEAST board (including the new CE) and the (mis)management team need urgent replacement. Come on you local MP'S wake up they are taking you for a ride which is more than they do for their patients.

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    Roy Gooch

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • I say, this is exactly what Coffee meant when she was banging on about "ineffective" leadership at the EEAST. They should make these blighters work 24-7 until new crews are available, or just keep them at 24-7 if it is a cheaper option. You know, make empty promises that new crews are coming but have no actual intention of recruiting, need to keep up morale of existing staff, etc etc. Don’t these work-shy swines realise that people are dying! I mean it must be the crews at fault after all – the new CEO has done his bit and it would be a complete fool who blamed Government cuts for brining on the situation. By the way, what ever happened to all the local MPs who were revelling in the success brought about by their "efforts" when the 15 not so new ambulances were announced? Not available for comment whilst tucking into a big slice of humble pie?

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • There`a a lot in the old adage "Failing to plan, is planning to fail". Except in the case of the EEAST management they fail to do anything. I really feel sorry for the front line staff with people like this in charge.

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    BG

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • I say, that Lamb fellow really is nosing his way up the ranking for most disingenuous Government lackey - just caught a glimpse of his interview for Anglia news - "doesn't inspire much confidence" he said before berating managers at the trust once more. Excellent stuff from a supporter of the NHS spending cuts that caused the muck up!

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • What a surprise, blame an already exhausted workforce for not manning overtime shifts, who can blame the staff for not wanting to work for this mismanaged company. The trust have paramedics in waiting with over 200 qualified student paramedics waiting to just finish an 8 week in house module to then be signed off and on the road, problem solved! That would be too easy for the trust, they just trying to hire inexperienced graduate paramedics who haven't been on the road and give them an £8k golden handshake to join for the privilege and not release the students due to 'demand'. The MPs and management should get to grips with that as a matter of urgency and then the trust would have their paramedic quota wouldn't they?!?!

    Report this comment

    Newuser07

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • "Rolf" firstly if you know me then name me, secondly if you know me then you will know the problems I have had with this poor service and the offical complaints I have made against the Service, personally I do not care about your false opinion as I know what is true and what is not, and the general public certainly know how the Ambulance Service operates..

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • Because BG, embarrassingly they reorganised rotas in November when they took those 15 ambulances out because of cuts and introduced RRVs. Now the ambulances are back and it's a pickle! I know of a crew in Suffolk who were not informed of the overtime until yesterday afternoon.

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    Jeffrey Osborne

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • The normal core shifts cannot even be covered at the moment. Only three ambulances after eleven oclock last night at Longwater Depot. Crews were hammered. With the new rotas starting on 4 march, some of these will be finishing at two and three am. Suspect that these will be covered by private crews.

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    Rolf

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • Classic., it is absolutely laughable, it could only happen to the Ambulance Service, it wouldn;t happen to the Fire Service or the Police, it is one mess after another. all faith has been lost with the ambulance service.. they are a laughing stock and a joke !!!! and they are supposed to be professionals .. I have had 4 dealing with the Ambulance Service and they have cocked it up 4 times.. good record !!!

    Report this comment

    Footyboy16

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

  • Why not just tweak the shift patterns instead of relying on voluntary overtime. Managers are paid to manage.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

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

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