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“The culture is all wrong” - Norfolk MPs call for change of leadership at ambulance service

PUBLISHED: 12:30 13 July 2018 | UPDATED: 12:43 13 July 2018

Three Norfolk MPs have called for a change of leadership at the East of England Ambulance Service. Pictures: Sonya Duncan and Denise Bradley

Three Norfolk MPs have called for a change of leadership at the East of England Ambulance Service. Pictures: Sonya Duncan and Denise Bradley

Sonya Duncan and Denise Bradley

Three Norfolk MPs are calling for a change of leadership at the East of England Ambulance Service.

A man was taken to hospital following a collision on the Thetford to Diss road. Picture: East of England Ambulance Service.A man was taken to hospital following a collision on the Thetford to Diss road. Picture: East of England Ambulance Service.

The move from Norman Lamb, George Freeman and Richard Bacon follows the CQC rating the Trust as ‘requires improvement’. This means that there has been no improvement in the rating over the last two years.

The CQC Report referred to staff describing ‘a culture of low morale, late shift finishes, and disengagement between front line staff and the senior management team.’

The MPs said performance at the Trust since a risk summit was held following the winter crisis, and the subsequent CQC inspection, appears to have deteriorated.

In particular, for the top category of life threatening conditions, response times are the worst in the country. Response times in rural Norfolk continue to be very disturbing, with some of the worst response times in the region.

In June, in Norfolk, some of highest risk patients (where there are life threatening circumstances, such as cardiac arrest and unconscious patients) were left waiting over 17 minutes, nearly double the national standard. For the second most serious category, some patients waited over 79 minutes for a response - this category includes stroke patients and those with chest pains.

Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, said: “The performance since the risk summit has been really troubling. The CQC state that performance is improving but the data seems to tell a different story.

“What concerns me, particularly, is that the Trust leadership never seem to acknowledge any real failing on their part. We have a chief executive of a vital emergency service in our region, who lives in Ireland and works from home one day a week. “I understand that the operations director took two periods of holiday during the busiest winter period when performance was dreadful.

“Another director blamed a member of staff for the risk summit taking place. The culture is all wrong. Change is needed. The CQC report confirms the care offered by staff is outstanding – they deserve inspiring leadership.”

MP for mid-Norfolk George Freeman said: “It is vital that public trust is maintained in the services that we all rely on and cherish, and we must therefore see improvements at the ambulance trust.

“There are many dedicated and hardworking staff at the Trust, but I and my fellow Norfolk MPs are all shocked by the lack of real leadership and the continued failure of the people in management. They are paid a lot of money to manage the service, and they are failing patients and frontline staff. That is why a change of management is needed.”

Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, said: “It troubles me that we hear the same reassuring noises from the ambulance trust that we have heard for over five years, but we don’t see the improvements and it is always someone else’s fault.

“The ambulance trust has some amazing staff, some of whom come to see me and other MPs to explain what they believe is taking place. What the Trust does not have – but badly needs - is good leadership and management at the top. This is where there needs to be a change.”

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