Region’s ambulance trust handed £18m to increase capacity
- Credit: EEAST
A cash injection has been given to the region's ambulance service as part of £1bn of funding announced by the government.
East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) was handed £18m to help with infrastructure and capacity, just before what is expected to be another busy winter for the region's health service.
West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, was also given £13m to go towards redeveloping their emergency department.
A total of 75 projects nationwide received the funding, with the aim to upgrade facilities so more people can be treated and more can be done to prevent ill-health in the first place.
The EEAST money will go towards improving or updating outdated bases and also taking vehicle maintenance in house.
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The bases will also house EEAST's new 24/7 make-ready service, which will see specialist teams work around the clock to clean and restock all vehicles to a consistently high standard. This will free up operational staff from completing these tasks so that they can get back out to respond to patients more quickly.
The news comes as EEAST prepares to start work on the first phase of the make-ready project, which will see 10 sites upgraded.
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Richard Kirk, head of make-ready services at EEAST, said: 'Together with the £6.5m we have already received, it will help us create the infrastructure to phase in our 24/7 make-ready service, in turn ensuring there is always a fully-stocked, cleaned and checked vehicle ready for our crews to use. This will help them get back out on the roads to take life-saving help our patients as quickly as possible.'
Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer for Ipswich and East Suffolk clinical commissioning group (CCG), which is the lead commissioner of EEAST on behalf of 19 of the region's CCGs, said: 'There will be a real benefit to staff to get better quality facilities as well. Put together, it will mean crews get back on the road more quickly, which means that patients in the community will be seen more quickly.'
Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock, who is also MP for West Suffolk, added: 'We want even more patients to receive world-class care in world-class NHS facilities and this near billion-pound boost – one of the most substantial capital funding commitments ever made – means that the NHS can do just that for years to come.'