661 apprentices in limbo as 999 trust banned over 'inappropriate behaviour'

Dr Tom Davis, interim chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust

Dr Tom Davis issued an apology to apprentices following the report. - Credit: EEAST

More than 600 apprentices will have to find new placements after Ofsted slapped the region's ambulance trust with a ban over "inappropriate behaviour".

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) was visited by an Ofsted inspector in June following safeguarding concerns and has been told to find new placements for hundreds of students. 

At the time there were 661 apprentices studying and the report found leaders and managers did not ensure the safeguarding and wellbeing of learners and were "too slow" to make safety improvements. 

Ofsted has removed EEAST as a registered provider, but it will be able to carry out clinical placements. 

The full nature of the "inappropriate behaviour" has not been disclosed but it is understood to be in line with behaviour reported in its latest CQC report.

In 2020, the trust was placed in special measures by the Care Quality Commission after uncovering bullying and sexual harassment.

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Dr Tom Davis, interim chief executive, told Wednesday's board meeting the outcome was deeply distressing and apologised.

Dr Davis said: "Ofsted recognised there had been a small but significant change in the culture but felt this had not been enough at a quick enough pace.

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"A number of apprentices when they spoke to the Ofsted inspectors reported having been exposed to poor behaviours and feeling unable to raise the concerns when they had experienced these poor behaviours.

"The conclusions that Ofsted drew were an alternative educational provider should be found. 

"If we are not on the Ofsted register we're not able to provide the educational element of apprenticeships but we are able to provide clinical placements with the oversight of the new education provider."

He said the board was committed to improving things for all, including apprentices. 

The report said there had been a significant increase in safeguarding team staffing but recent changes had not stopped the apprentices experiencing inappropriate behaviour.

Questions from managers around safeguarding were called "too general" and not specific about colleagues’ behaviour.

The inspector said: "Managers are too accepting of these returns, given the history of issues within the service."

The report said leaders clearly promoted the high professional standards staff were expected to adhere to and where necessary removed staff from their post.

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