March 9 2014 Latest news:
Adam Gretton, Health correspondent
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The new chief executive of the region’s ambulance service described the trust’s recruitment plan as “wholly inadequate” as he pledged to make the hiring of more paramedics his top priority.
Anthony Marsh, who was today confirmed as the new CEO of the East of England Ambulance Service, as well as retaining his chief executive post at the West Midlands Ambulance Service, said the number of paramedics in the West Midlands had increased by 120 this year when the East of England had only seen a net gain of seven.
The senior ambulance leader, who conducted a critical review of the leadership and organisation of the under-scrutiny health trust this year, will take up his new role on January 1 and said he will spend four days a week in the East of England.
Dr Marsh, who has 26 years experience in the ambulance service, has pledged to make student paramedic recruitment a priority, but warned that it could take two years to completely turn around the fortunes of the East of England service, which has been criticised by the Care Quality Commission, MPs and patients over slow responses and poor performance.
He will be responsible for two trusts that cover a population of more than 11 million people. But Dr Marsh urged critics of his part-time chief executive role to “judge me by results”.
He pledged: “Do not judge me on how many days I’ll be in the East of England, judge me on improvements being achieved. I understand that people will have some anxieties around that. I am going to spend four days a week in the East of England Ambulance Service - I know the priorities we need to pay attention to and I am determined to do that.”
The interim chief executive of the ambulance service, Andrew Morgan, pledged earlier this year to recruit 350 extra frontline staff. However, figures last month revealed that between January and September, the East of England Ambulance Service hired 44 qualified paramedics and three specialist paramedics. However, 40 paramedics left in that time.
Dr Marsh added: “The recruitment plan has been wholly inadequate. We recruited 260 new staff in the West Midlands this year - 120 staff left the trust, but we have 140 extra paramedics and student paramedics. I think to get to a high performing ambulance service that will take two years. It takes time to recruit more paramedics.”
In his review of the governance of the East of England Ambulance Service, which was published in the summer, Dr Marsh said that the trust board had developed a sense of “helplessness” and there was a lack of “cohesive” plan for it to meet its targets. He revealed yesterday that he had offered to provide the team of the East of England Ambulance Service further advice and support following the publication of his review. However, the offer was not taken up.
Dr Marsh also hinted that there may be further director changes at the East of England service next year.
“We need the best people and I need to make sure people are facing in the same direction and that may mean change. The staff have been working really hard and some improvement has been made, but it is not fast enough,” he said.
The chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service hailed the recruitment of one of England’s most experienced ambulance leaders following the hiring of Anthony Marsh.
The announcement by the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) comes almost a year after former NHS Norfolk chief executive, Andrew Morgan, joined the ambulance service as acting CEO.
Geoffrey Harris, chairman of the ambulance trust, paid tribute to Mr Morgan for the work he had done.
“There is no doubt he has done a fantastic professional job, bearing in mind he came in as an interim. He had identified the challenges the ambulance service faces and in the immediate term, he improved efficiency and made the best of what we have got,” he said.
Dr Harris added that Mr Morgan would continue to work with the trust throughout January as part of the transition process and the trust would work with the TDA in February and March to identify opportunities for his future career.
Commenting on the recruitment of Dr Marsh, the chairman added: “There is no doubt he is the country’s leading ambulance service chief executive and I am really pleased he is able to come to us. I would like to think he will build on the foundations Andrew has put in place to shape the service for the future.”