Ambulance watch: ‘There is a way forward’, says MP after meeting ambulance bosses

An East Anglian MP says bosses of the region's under-fire ambulance service must work to restore public confidence - but insists 'there is a way forward'.

Therese Coffey was joined by other MPs from the region, including Peter Aldous, Chloe Smith and Simon Wright for talks with the chairman and deputy chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service at Westminster yesterday.

The meeting addressed key issues relating to the ambulance service's performance, including handover times at hospitals, rural response times, transparency of data, and the recruitment of frontline staff.

Last night, Dr Coffey said she felt there would be 'immediate action' from the meeting, in particular on the handling of complaints.

'What had been taking months should now take a few weeks,' she said.

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'More frontline staff are being taken on, with 16 new people in Suffolk in two weeks' time.'

She said the MPs had read 'a litany' of individual problems, and had called for greater openness on handover and response times.

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The service has 'some way to go on instilling confidence', said Dr Coffey, but the parties will meet again to discuss what data can be made available regularly.

She said: 'There is a way forward. I believe that board members finally understood quite how concerned MPs are. We will meet again in the new year.'

An ambulance service spokesman said it was committed to providing a 'good, safe service' to all patients and had invested �400,000 in rural areas recently, along with introducing rotas which would 'better place crews where and when patients need them to improve response times further.'

The spokesman added: 'Despite being required to save �50m over the next five years as our part of the overall NHS efficiency savings the trust is making no cuts and is in fact recruiting more front line staff as well as working on improving response times.

'We look forward to meeting with MPs to discuss ways in which they may be able to help us improve further.'

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