Budget restraints and increasing demand forces East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust to carry out review

FRONTLINE staff of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) responded to more than 668,000 emergency calls during the last financial year.

FRONTLINE staff of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) responded to more than 668,000 emergency calls during the last financial year.

And the Patient Transport Service carried out around one million patient journeys, it was announced at the service’s annual public meeting held at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire on Wednesday.

However, while praising staff for their efforts, Trust chairman Maria Ball emphasised the importance of resources being used more efficiently and for patient benefit amid forthcoming changes to the NHS and a wave of cutbacks expected within the public sector.

“Like every public sector organisation, the Trust faces some challenging times ahead, such as balancing the impact of the public finances on our budgets against increasing demands for our services and the need to improve quality even further,” said Mrs Ball.

“Simply doing more of the same is not a sustainable option. Therefore the Trust is reviewing how services are delivered to patients and how they can be improved in terms of response, quality of care and efficiency.

“The whole review is grounded in ensuring that we can continue to deliver quality patient care across all services.”

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Mrs Ball did point out that the service was one of the best performing in the country, having achieved the Government’s target of responding to 75 per cent of life-threatened patients within eight minutes. The EEAST also achieved the target of reaching 95 per cent of non life threatening but serious calls within 19 minutes.

“This is thanks to our staff who have been magnificent during the past year, faced with the constantly increasing demand on the 999 service and the challenges thrown at us by Mother Nature especially in the form of last winter’s snow,” she said.

“Once again we saw the dedication of our staff as many went the extra mile in these difficult conditions so patients continued to get the service they needed.

“In fact, during the year the service reached 15,000 more patients within the target time than in the previous year and received from the NHS regulator, the Care Quality Commission, unconditional registration.”

Mrs Ball also thanked volunteers such as Community First Responders, car drivers and the ambulance user group for making an important contribution, as well as non executive and executive director colleagues - which includes a new executive management team - for their work in overseeing the running of the service.

Chief executive of the EEAST, Hayden Newton, told the meeting that he is proud to be at the helm of one of the country’s best performing ambulance trusts.

He said: “Our emphasis is on working with a changing NHS, change and innovation, and we have the ambition of delivering the best in clinical excellence in the country.”

He also highlighted the service’s commitment in resilience and emergency preparedness, and the recent launch of the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) which is based in Cambridgeshire.

“The national HART programme has proved extremely popular with staff; we’ve trained 40 colleagues at top facilities throughout the country, and they have already been out responding to major calls such as chemical spills and dangerous incidents.

“Working like this provides a strong foundation for a multi-agency response to such incidents both within and outside our boundaries and support other parts of the country.”

Also speaking at the meeting, finance director Paul Scott detailed how the ambulance trust spent its money during the last financial year, including an annual turnover of �228m.

And director of clinical quality, Sheilagh Reavey, and medical director, Dr Pam Chrispin, told those present of the specific clinical activities and the five priorities the ambulance service is focusing on, including reducing falls and improving patient records.