Ambulance chiefs' pens and pencils ban

SUFFOLK'S cash-strapped ambulance service has banned staff from ordering stationery and receiving training without approval from top bosses, it emerged today.

SUFFOLK'S cash-strapped ambulance service has banned staff from ordering stationery and receiving training without approval from top bosses, it emerged today.

The financially-stricken East of England Ambulance Service Trust sent out a memo to all staff in December warning all overtime, training and office equipment must be approved by an executive director.

The message, sent from Chris Preston, the trust's director of finance, said: “Regarding our financial position, I am writing to you to explain why in order to deliver our break-even target this year the executive team has decided to put in place extra rigorous controls around discretionary spending.”

The trust is failing to hit targets of reaching 75 per cent of life-threatening calls within eight minutes and has asked its commissioners, NHS Suffolk, for more cash to reach the target.

Meanwhile another whistle-blowing paramedic today spoke out about the rock bottom morale affecting the ambulance service in Suffolk.

He said: “Ambulance staff by nature have a get-on-and-do attitude and have become accustomed to working under pressure and with limited resources while maintaining a high level of clinical care.

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“But staff are beginning to feel the effects of target chasing and I must say that morale has suffered consequently.

“The medical stores budget at Ipswich ambulance station has been slashed as the trust tries to recoup money in an effort to balance the books by April 2009.

“Ipswich has one of the busiest ambulance stations in East Anglia and its population is served by a highly dedicated and professional workforce. Senior management have become so blinkered in its drive to meet its response times it has forgotten how to support its staff.”

Mr Preston, finance director of the trust, said: “The trust is absolutely committed to providing a safe service to our patients and the public.

“As such the trust constantly reviews its expenditure to maintain rigorous control of administrative costs. This ensures that we get the best value for the public money we spend.”

What can be done to improve the ambulance service in Suffolk? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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