East Anglia: Ambulance chief to retire after union row

THE region’s ambulance service chief executive has announced his retirement just days after union members expressed a vote of no confidence in him, it emerged last night.

Hayden Newton, the longest-serving chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST), officially handed his notice to the board on October 1 and will be stepping down after more than five years in the role.

The 59-year-old’s retirement comes just over a week after the GMB union announced a vote of no confidence in him. Members wrote to the chairman of the trust, claiming Mr Newton was “pushing changes in rosters and for less staff and vehicles which runs the serious risk to patients”.

Following the announcement, Tony Hughes, GMB organiser for staff at EEAST, said: “We are very pleased. I hope the new regime can make things better.

“We would like to see a proper dialogue with the interim person and the board. It’s never too late to change things.”

Mr Newton will retire within the next six months, depending on how quickly a new chief executive can be recruited.

He said: “EEAST is a great place to work. We have outstanding staff who work hard to deliver the best possible service to our patients who call us when they are in their greatest need.

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“Now I am nearing my retirement age, I think the time is right to pass the baton on to a new chief executive whilst I look for a new focus in my life.”

Chairman of EEAST, Maria Ball, said: “Hayden will be greatly missed within the trust and wider ambulance family – we are all very sad that he is leaving. I have personally known Hayden for more than 12 years and I continue to admire his energy, integrity, commitment and absolute passion for ambulance services.

“Hayden has been an excellent chief executive and under his leadership the trust has made real progress. Our clinical support desks are saving around 900 ambulance unnecessary dispatches every week, paramedic numbers have increased significantly under his leadership and more frontline staff continue to be recruited to nearly double the number since he took over in 2007 when the trust faced significant financial issues.

“With Hayden’s support, we will now start the process to find his replacement – he will be a hard act to follow.”

Mr Newton began his career in the ambulance service more than 30 years ago and went on to train to become a paramedic working on the front line.