March 10 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, January 25, 2014
Care minister Norman Lamb is confident the region’s under fire ambulance service will start to see improvements after meeting with its new boss.
The North Norfolk MP sat down with Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, to discuss what was being done to turn around the fortunes of the trust, which has been criticised over its slow response times.
Mr Lamb said Dr Marsh was clear that the service was “in serious need of improvement” and recognised that it had “drifted”.
“He’s taking action to recruit more paramedics and get more students paramedics going through the system,” Mr Lamb said.
“And he’s taking a look at how they can slim down the management structure to free up resources for the front line. I think all of those things were very positive.”
Yesterday’s talk was the first meeting Mr Lamb has had with Dr Marsh since his appointment in December.
The ambulance boss has retained his chief executive post at the West Midlands Ambulance Service, but Mr Lamb said he had already gone out to visit paramedics throughout the east patch, and he had had a “good reaction” from the workforce.
Dr Marsh has also pledged an extra fully staffed ambulance to begin working on the north Norfolk patch, which has been identified as a rural hotspot where response times need particular improvement.
Once in place, Mr Lamb said the ambulance would have a named crew attached to it as a “demonstration” of the new chief’s determination to make real improvements.
Mr Lamb said Dr Marsh had also started a drive to recruit 400 student paramedics as part of his turn around plan that will be presented to the trust’s board in February.
The pair also discussed response time targets and the need to ensure vehicles are not doubling up unnecessarily when responding to 999 calls
Mr Lamb added: “I think we have got a good chance now of a momentum building to deliver the change that’s critical and long over due.
“He speaks with great confidence about his capacity to sort the problem, which is really encouraging. He’s developing a very clear plan.”
Dr Marsh said it was “great” to meet with Mr Lamb and discuss his plan of action.
He added: “These improvements are focussed around supporting our existing dedicated staff and recruiting 400 new student paramedics, a campaign which we launched earlier this week. These will help us to get to patients more promptly.”
■ How do you feel about the future of our ambulance service? Email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk