MP calls for break-up of ambulance service after leaders slammed in new report
PUBLISHED: 16:55 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 31 July 2019
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The MP for Suffolk Coastal is calling for the region's ambulance trust to be split into "two or three smaller services" after inspectors found its leadership was not fit for purpose.
Leaders at the East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) came under fire in a Care Quality Commission (CQC) report published today, following an inspection in April and May.
While staff were seen as "overwhelmingly caring and dedicated to providing the best care they could", chief inspector Professor Ted Baker said the CQC was concerned there had been "significant turnover within the senior leadership team".
EEAST was rated 'requires improvement' overall, with some areas judged to be 'outstanding' and others 'inadequate'.
Now, Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, is calling for the trust to be broken up into "smaller services" - a move which she believes would be for the "benefit of patients".
Responding to the report, she said: "This is deeply disappointing news. The reality is it is crunch time for the future of this service as it exists today.
"I have already arranged a meeting in Westminster for September for the interim chief executive, Dorothy Hosein, to explain to all MPs what she is doing to implement the CQC's recommendations. I have also asked the chief inspector to speak to us.
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"I will be pressing ministers to assess the break-up of the trust into two or three smaller services for the benefit of patients."
Inspectors found leadership at the trust to be 'inadequate', criticising bosses for having no "clear long-term realistic strategy" in place, and "continued non-compliance and breaches of regulations related to mandatory training, medicines management and ensuring that staff were competent for their roles".
However, staff were praised for treating patients with "compassion and kindness", respecting their privacy and dignity, and taking account of their individual needs.
Dr Coffey added: "The East of England Ambulance Service has been underperforming for several years. While some progress has been made to improve services, I am really concerned on behalf of patients that the trust is failing to get a grip on response times and safety for patients.
"While I congratulate the whole team for the 'outstanding' rating on caring for patients, it is the 'inadequate' rating for leadership which causes me concern."
Dorothy Hosein, interim CEO at EEAST, did not directly respond to Dr Coffey's calls for the trust to be split up.
She said: "The report highlights several areas of good practice, and rightly pays tribute to the outstanding care that our staff and volunteers deliver on a daily basis. It also recognises that we are already making positive changes, which are reflected in the improved ratings we received for our patient transport service and in the responsive domain.
"However, we acknowledge that there is still more to do. Over the coming weeks we will continue to focus on recruiting additional staff to join our caring and dedicated team, as well as creating stable leadership.
"Further work will also take place to embed the improvements we are already making so that they really begin to have a positive impact on our patients and staff."