‘A fully-fledged scandal’ - MP hits out at ambulance trust after damning report
The state of the region’s ambulance service is “a fully-fledged scandal”, a Norfolk MP has said, following a damning report by inspectors.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) found the leadership of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) “fostered” abuse.
Bullying was “normalised” and its leaders failed to act when staff were accused of sexual predatory behaviour towards patients, inspectors revealed - as they recommended the trust go into special measures.
The CQC used its enforcement powers to order the service to overhaul its safeguarding processes and referred the trust to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), due to a potential breach of the Equality Act.
The report said the trust’s leadership were “combative and defensive” when challenged following tip-offs from whistleblowers about the safeguarding of patients and staff from sexual abuse, harassment and inappropriate behaviour”.
And Clive Lewis, Labour MP for Norwich South, said the details which the report had revealed were “deeply disturbing”.
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He said: “It is almost beyond comprehension how a service so trusted to come to our aid when we are at our most vulnerable could also fail to protect patients and staff from sexual abuse, inappropriate behaviour and harassment.
“My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by what I think is fair to describe as a fully-fledged scandal at this trust.
“In the end, the buck for this kind of thing ultimately stops with ministers and central government. I have no doubt they will try and distance themselves from this failure and put it all down to a few ‘bad apples’ at a provincial NHS Trust.
“However, this is far from being an isolated incident and is also one of the many consequences of foisting competitive market and business principles onto our public services.”
The trust has said its leadership has taken steps to improve the culture, strengthen safeguarding and tackle inappropriate behaviour.
Since the inspection it has updated safeguarding policies and its complaints procedure.
It will also survey all staff on their experience of the trust’s culture including inappropriate behaviour.
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