December 9 2013 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Patients should be in no doubt that the ambulance service is heading in the right direction, a Suffolk MP said following a meeting with Trust bosses in Westminster.
Therese Coffey said there had been good progress on a turnaround plan for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, which recognised the need to provide more paramedics and double-staffed ambulances.
The region’s MPs met chairman Geoff Harris and chief executive Andrew Morgan, who has been in the interim role since December, for a briefing on plans signed off by the NHS Trust Development Authority last week.
Dr Coffey said: “It was a positive meeting and there has been good progress made on the plan. The leadership is in a much better place than a few months ago. One of the things that gave us confidence is that there is clear focus on shifting resources to the front line and that is being presented in a credible manner with clear timelines and detailed activity plans.
“Key issues we discussed included recruitment and training of paramedics, the role of community first responders and the work being done with hospitals to reduce handover times. The next key learnings will come from the clinical capacity review being undertaken which will enable the Trust to plan better where ambulances and paramedics should be based so as to ensure good response times in our rural areas. Patients and constituents should be in no doubt that the service is heading in the right direction and that MPs will continue to monitor progress.”
The ambulance service has already announced plans to hire 350 more front-line staff at the under-fire ambulance service as part of its turnaround.
Bosses at the 999 trust have recruited 160 emergency care assistants and paramedics since then, but its interim chief executive said last week the organisation needed a “few hundred more” than their previous estimate and medics from abroad could help fill vacancies.
Mr Morgan is looking to find £20m of savings from back office and support functions to fund more front-line jobs and double staffed ambulances to help improve response times in the region.
The Trust has said that redundancies were a possibility at the end of the year, but the restructure of the East of England Ambulance Service would not involve a reduction in paramedic, call handler or dispatch staff numbers.
The region’s ambulance service, which covers Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, has been criticised by MPs, patients and the health regulator, the Care Quality Commission, over poor response times.
However, the trust is still failing to hit its trust-wide target of attending at least 75pc of the most urgent 999 calls within eight minutes and to get a transportable resource to 95pc of them within 19 minutes.