Ambulance service’s foundation trust bid deferred over response time concerns

Ambulance chiefs were today told that they must put 'robust' plans in place to improve response times after its bid for foundation trust status was deferred.

Health regulator Monitor said it was unable to approve the application by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) because the trust had failed its 19 minute response time target.

The foundation trust application has been deferred for 12 months whilst the NHS trust new chief executive and board put in plans to improve response times and the quality of its service.

A spokesman for Monitor said: 'The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust was found to have failed its 19 minute response time target and has not yet provided evidence that it has a robust action plan in place to address this.'

'In addition the Care Quality Commission (CQC) is giving further consideration to quality information before being ready to conclude on its assurance position on all CQC essential standards. Monitor will not authorise trusts without this assurance.'

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The ambulance trust has been told to put in action plans to address the concerns of the Monitor board, which met yesterday to discuss the application for foundation status.

Reacting to the news, EEAST interim chief executive Andrew Morgan, who joined the trust on Monday, said: 'Getting services to patients right and improving our performance is my focus. In the few days that I have been in post I have had many good ideas already from staff that gives me real belief that we can transform our service.'

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The ambulance trust says it is committed to improving response times by recruiting more frontline staff, redesigning rotas and addressing patient handover delays. It will also be setting up a workshop made up of frontline staff, governors, and commissioners to discuss how further changes can be made to improve performance.

Trust chairman Maria Ball added: 'I have been extremely proud of the commitment shown by members and colleagues to this application, but recognise that this is a challenging time for the ambulance service and we do need to improve our service and performance. We are focused on delivering the best possible service to patients and addressing the areas that Monitor have raised and I want to thank our members for their support during this time.'

There are now 145 NHS foundation trusts in England, of which 41 are mental health trusts.

NHS foundation trusts benefit from being free from central government control and able to decide how to improve their services, retain surpluses to invest in services, and be accountable to their local communities, with local people as members and governors.

See Friday's EDP for more.

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