New technology boost ambulances

NEW technology could have been installed much sooner to help speed up East Anglian ambulances, a review has revealed.The huge project to install a new computer system and a mobile data in ambulances was the largest the East Anglian Ambulance Trust had ever embarked on.

By Tracey Sparling

NEW technology could have been installed much sooner to help speed up East Anglian ambulances, a review has revealed.

The huge project to install a new computer system and a mobile data in ambulances was the largest the East Anglian Ambulance Trust had ever embarked on.

It is already paying off as the trust finally hit its target of getting to 75 per cent of life threatening calls in eight minutes last month. That is because control room staff choose which vehicles to use better, as featured in the Evening Star.


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But a new report out today reveals the project was dogged by problems. It shows certain things could have been done better, and stresses that lessons could be learned.

The report states: "Previous projects had not been as successful as hoped, so there was much hanging on the success of this project.

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"Trouble in getting the project through official channels made getting the purchase contract signed very difficult, and at times doubtful, but perseverance won through.

"The project did take approximately three months longer than anticipated. This was partly due to the long time it took to get the full business case (business plan to ask for funds) through the NHS Executive in Leeds, and also to the added complications of fitting the radios."

Only one type of radio was ever considered, so the EAAT will never know if the best was bought.

Software which was delivered in March last year had to be replaced because new managers wanted different equipment. The new delivery came in May.

Staff were trained before the system – which should have only taken a couple of days to install but took nearly three months – could be finished, and there were worries they would forget what they had been taught.

The report adds: "Probably the biggest lesson to be learnt is to work within the red tape. The NHS bureaucracy has been set up to prove that public funds are best spent.

"EAAT failed to produce a suitable outline business case in the first place, but what was more of a travesty was that the Eastern Regional (NHS) team failed to pick up on this and approved it, enabling the EAAT to embark on the next stage."

A supplier of the computer system was found, but the full business case was then rejected in February 2000. The EAAT objected but the full business case had to be re-written several times over, which took nearly a year.

The report added: "If the trust had found out the requirements for the business cases before trying to write them, the entire process would have been shortened by several months."

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