Ambulance Watch: Former chairman’s letter reveals ‘dismay’ over part-time CEO decision

East of England Ambulance Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

East of England Ambulance Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

NHS chiefs have defended a decision to appoint a part-time CEO at the region's ambulance service after it emerged that directors were 'dismayed and extremely disappointed' by the appointment.

Dr Geoff Harris, former interim chairman of EEAST.

Dr Geoff Harris, former interim chairman of EEAST. - Credit: Archant

The former chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), Geoff Harris, wrote to the head of the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) last November expressing his concerns about plans to share a chief executive with another ambulance trust.

However, a month later, it was announced that Anthony Marsh, the CEO of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, would become the new interim boss of the under-performing East of England trust.

A copy of a letter, anonymously sent to the office of West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson this week, revealed that Dr Harris wrote to David Flory, chief executive of the NHS TDA, on November 28 about its decision to go down the road of appointing a part-time CEO at EEAST.

Dr Harris, who resigned as interim chairman a month into Dr Marsh's tenure at EEAST, said in the letter 'your approach appears to take no account of the risk to service delivery and to patients that it would entail.'

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He added: 'I and my non-executive directors are clear that the transformation the trust needs cannot be successfully led by a CEO working on a part-time basis. I and my colleagues cannot see how a severe reduction in senior management capacity would do anything other than re-open and worsen this leadership deficit and risk seriously destabilising the organisation.'

Dr Marsh is contracted to work three days a week in the East of England, but revealed earlier this month that he was working full-time hours at EEAST.

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A spokesperson for the TDA added that EEAST urgently needed experienced leadership to address 'persistent poor performance'.

'As the trust had been unsuccessful in substantively recruiting a suitable candidate with the right expertise, it was agreed with EEAST board that Dr Anthony Marsh would be the best interim appointment for the trust to drive forward improvements, urgently needed ahead of the challenging winter period.'

'West Midlands Ambulance Service worked with EEAST to make the necessary arrangements ensuring Dr Marsh could prioritise their issues and spend the majority of his time at EEAST.

'Dr Marsh had previously undertaken a thorough governance review at the trust and was already familiar with the issues the trust was facing. We are already seeing the improvements we expected such as the recruitment of 400 additional paramedics this year, 147 new ambulances ordered and £1m less in management costs which are being re-invested into the front line. This work must continue for the foreseeable future to ensure the trust can deliver high quality care on a sustainable basis.'

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