‘Risk summit’ ordered after whistleblower raises concerns about East of England Ambulance Service patient deaths

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust ambulance. Picture: SIMON PARKER/ARCHANT

An East of England Ambulance Service Trust ambulance. Picture: SIMON PARKER/ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

The region’s ambulance trust, which is facing allegations of patient deaths due to delays, is to be the subject of a “risk summit”.

Steve Barclay, Conservative health minister. PHOTO: IAN BURT

Steve Barclay, Conservative health minister. PHOTO: IAN BURT - Credit: IAN BURT

The claims around the East of England Ambulance Service Trust have been raised with senior officials, including NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens and watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Conservative health minister Steve Barclay, North East Cambridgeshire MP, told the Commons that NHS England and NHS Improvement, with the CQC in attendance, will meet in the coming days to discuss and review information about the concerns.

Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis last week told the Commons of allegations that 20 people died due to ambulances arriving late over a 12-day period where an ambulance service had failed to move into its highest state of emergency.

He said a whistleblower brought the claims to him.

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Speaking during a Commons debate, Liberal Democrat former health minister Norman Lamb, encouraged Mr Barclay to reiterate that ambulance trust managers should allow staff to speak out when they have “genuine and legitimate” concerns.

Mr Barclay supported such a remark and later referred to the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, adding to Mr Lamb: “On receipt of his letter I instructed officials in my department to share copies with the Care Quality Commission - the independent regulator of all health and social care services in England - to ensure they’re fully aware of the issues being raised.

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“I’ve discussed these concerning allegations directly with the chief executive of NHS England and the chief executive of NHS Improvement this morning, and asked them to confirm to me the actions they will be taking.

“They have subsequently confirmed they will be holding a joint risk summit regarding the trust in the next week - the CQC will be in attendance.”

The region’s NHS came under intense pressure between mid-December and early January.

But a dossier produced by a whistleblower, seen by this newspaper, alleged 19 people died in the east of England during that period, including a man who waited 16 hours for an ambulance in Lowestoft on December 27.The ambulance trust last week said of the claims: “We are aware of the claims made by MPs but note no complaints have been received from patients or their families at this time. Nor have any concerns been expressed internally through our line management, whistleblowing or freedom to speak up processes.”

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