Ambulance service’s bid for foundation trust status is deferred over concerns about response times
“NOT good enough”. That was the verdict on the performance of the East of England Ambulance Service from its new chief executive last night as he pledged to improve response times and restore public confidence.
It comes just days after the service was plunged into uncertainty after it failed to convince a regulator it had done enough to earn foundation trust status – with concerns over response times a key factor.
Not qualifying for foundation trust status by 2014 would mean it would cease to exist as that is the Government deadline which has been set for all NHS trusts to have converted to foundation trusts.
Former NHS Norfolk and Waveney chief executive Andrew Morgan took over as the new head of the trust on Monday following the retirement of Hayden Newton.
The new man at the helm accepted that the ambulance service’s performance had not been good enough and pledged to improve the service.
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The last six months has seen the ambulance trust embroiled in complaints from patients regarding long waits for an ambulance and concern from staff and unions over staffing levels and changes to rotas.
Mr Morgan added that one of his top priorities was to improve handover times with A&E units.
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The 49-year-old added that he was looking to rebuild bridges between ambulance trust management and frontline staff and was keen to turn the interim role into a permanent one.
“The vast majority of our dealings with our public we do really well and the feedback is excellent. Our staff are first-rate and are caring, compassionate and high-quality staff. On occasion we have let some members of the public down and they have not got the service we would expect. It is not good enough.
“Some of the isolated incidents where we have not responded as well as we would have liked has led to a reduction in public confidence and has damaged our reputation and as someone who loves the NHS that hurts and it hurts our staff,” he said.
The new leadership came as board members from health care regulator Monitor deferred the East of England Ambulance Service’s bid to become a foundation trust, which would enable the trust to have more freedom and control over its affairs.
One of the main reasons for deferral was the need to see improved performance against response times.
The ambulance trust faces having to make savings of �50million over the next five years, but is looking to recruit 140 new frontline staff to help improve coverage across the region.