MP says region's ambulance service trust needs to be broken up
PUBLISHED: 21:13 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 21:13 04 September 2019
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An MP has renewed her call to break up the region's ambulance service into two or three smaller organisations.
Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, hosted two meetings on her first day back at parliament, discussing the future of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST).
She heard from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and NHS Improvement about failures in leadership at the trust and what was being done to improve the situation.
The trust's interim CEO Dorothy Hosein and medical director Dr Tom Davis were then asked to speak with her on how changes identified in the latest CQC report will be put into action.
The report, published in July, said the trust 'requires improvement'.
Dr Coffey had previously written to the health minister asking them look into breaking up the trust into two or three smaller services.
She said: "On the positives, the CQC does not think a risk summit for patient safety is needed but that there does need to be ongoing culture change and improved governance.
"I recognise that changes are being made, that a new Chair and board are being recruited and that handover delays at hospitals have almost been eliminated, with the Interim Chief Executive taking personal control of that.
"That said, I still have serious concerns on behalf of patients.
"Response times in our part of Suffolk are still not good enough, there is a culture of bullying and harassment, as identified by the CQC, that is causing significant recruitment and retention issues."
She added: "The reality is that the service has been under performing for many years - and as previous promises of improvement have led to several false dawns, it is now time to act to break-up the service for the benefit of patients."
David Sollis, CEO of Healthwatch Essex said: "We are aware of the CQC's latest report which found that the East of England Ambulance Service 'requires improvement'.
"We are reassured that some changes have already been made and that further improvement remains a top priority for the Trust.
"It is not uncommon for complex issues to require innovative solutions and we are pleased that time and thought is being dedicated to how service can be improved for patients across the area.
"Any discussion about improvements is very welcome, but we would want to understand more about what that would mean for patients in real terms.
"Whatever decision is taken, our hope is that patient experience is placed at the heart, and that the people who use the service in every county affected are given the opportunity to help to shape it to meet their needs."
Dorothy Hosein stressed patient safety at EEAST has significantly improved.
She added: "Maintaining our improved performance relies on us continuing to recruit and retain sufficient staff. Where we have done this, we have seen improvements in performance. We are pleased to see an increase in our staff numbers. Furthermore, our staff turnover is below target.
"We recognise that there are areas where we need to continue to embed improvements and have an improvement plan in place which we working at pace to deliver. We will continue to improve response times.
"We are not aware that our commissioners and regulators have any concerns about the size of the organisation."