Significant progress made in service

By Sharon AsplinAN ambulance service has made significant progress over the last 12 months, according to its own staff.That is one of the main findings from a survey on Essex Ambulance Service published by independent watchdog, the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI).

By Sharon Asplin

AN ambulance service has made significant progress over the last 12 months, according to its own staff.

That is one of the main findings from a survey on Essex Ambulance Service published by independent watchdog, the Commission for Health Improvement (CHI).

The information will be used in future inspections and in the formulation of the trust's star rating for 2004.

Key findings of the survey at the Essex Ambulance Service NHS Trust include:

n The trust scored in the top 20% for all ambulance trusts when staff were asked if they were generally satisfied with their jobs

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n The trust scored in the top 20% of all ambulance trusts when staff were asked if they thought their employer had a positive attitude towards providing a good work/life balance for staff

n 28% of respondents reported experiencing physical violence at work in the previous year, usually from patients/clients or their relatives

n Although 83% of staff reported routinely working more than their contracted hours, a lower number of staff, 15%, reported working more than 10 hours of overtime in an average week.

n 85% of staff had received some form of training or development in the previous 12 months.

Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh said: "Staff surveys are vitally important since there is clear evidence that there are connections between how staff are managed, how they feel about their work and better patient outcomes.

"We have surveyed our staff before as an individual organisation but this is the first time that we have done so as part of a nationwide survey. This survey is particularly useful because it allows us to compare the results with similar organisations across the country.

"The progress we have made over the last year is largely down to the fantastic efforts of the staff within the trust.

"On a personal note, I am delighted with the way we are working in partnership with the staff to ensure that the trust runs better than ever before and we therefore provide a better service to the people of Essex."

Kim Nurse, director of human resources and organisational development, added: "We are in no way complacent. Last year the staff told us in no uncertain terms that they were not happy and we have made many changes over the last 12 months. These changes have clearly been successful as the results of the survey demonstrate.

"Having said that the survey also shows there are areas that we still need to work on. We have already started implementing staff appraisals, which was something staff were very definite about wanting. Almost a quarter have now received one.

"The fact that so many staff are working over their contracted hours is of concern and we are working hard to reduce that."

Last summer, the Essex Ambulance Service was named as one of the worst in the country in the Government's NHS performance tables, as it failed to earn a single star rating from the CHI.

sharon.asplin@eadt.co.uk

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