East Anglia: Ambulance award to Hayden Newton prompts anger
11:05 31 December 2012
THE decision to award a top honour to the former chief executive of the region’s ambulance service has been greeted by disbelief by campaigners concerned about its performance.
Hayden Newton was awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal in the New Year’s Honours’ list published at the weekend – two months after he retired from the East Anglian Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EAAST).
His retirement came as the trust came under fire for delays in reaching patients – and concern about its performance generally.
The award was attacked by the GMB union, which has members working at the EAAST.
Tony Hughes, GMB Organiser said, “The news that Hayden Newton is to receive the Queen’s Award for service to the ambulance service is a surprise to GMB members who worked for the Trust during his time in charge.
“At best this is bad timing as he left the service with a poor record of reaching the government targets for response times and a worse one on industrial relations with a GMB survey on bullying within the Trust underway.
“It is clear from our local newspaper and radio, as well as official figures that under his leadership, the Trust failed to reach government targets for getting people to hospital in all areas.”
Waveney MP Peter Aldous has raised concerns about the trust’s performance – and said he found the timing of the award “puzzling.”
He said: “I don’t know enough about Mr Newton’s career before he came to East Anglia to comment on that, and it may be that his service then was so exceptional that it merits this award.
“But on the face of it, the performance of the service in East Anglia during this time makes the award seem a bit puzzling.”
Mr Newton was nominated by the EEAST to go forward for the award after leading both Kent Ambulance Service and EEAST through their mergers.
The citation said that he “led a multitude of local and national pieces of work over and above his normal role” and that his “outstanding major incident experience” was demonstrated at the Hatfield and Potter’s Bar rail incidents.
EEAST Chair Maria Ball said: “I am thrilled that Hayden’s tireless work has been recognised in this way.
“The medal is in honour of his dedication to helping patients in their times of most need by direct involvement throughout his NHS career and his part in improving response times nationally, his involvement in major incidents and specific projects, such as his role as national ambulance lead for the London 2012 Olympics.”
Mr Newton said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award and want to take the opportunity to thank my family, friends and colleagues who have supported me throughout my 35 years serving patients in the ambulance service.”