Suffolk: Ambulance rota consultants paid £14.5K

Ambulances lined up at Ipswich Hospital

Ambulances lined up at Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

Consultants who helped devise a controversial rota that led to a reduction of double staffed ambulances in some areas were paid £14,500, new figures have revealed.

Union chiefs last night described the spend as a “waste of money” and said a current review of resources – also being carried out by consultants – could see the rota being redrawn again.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) last night defended the cost of the hired in expertise but said rotas would be kept under constant review.

Plans to change the use of double-manned ambulances, used to transport patients to hospital, and replace them with rapid response vehicles (RRV) in some areas were unveiled last year.

At the time UNISON, who wrote an open letter to then chief executive Hayden Newton urging him to stop the rota changes, claimed the system was founded on out-of-date information and did not “help those patients who are most vulnerable and need transporting to hospital”.

Gary Applin, branch secretary of UNISON, said it is now clear that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

He added: “Fourteen and a half grand is a lot of money isn’t it. Bearing in mind the actual result was not seen as a good idea and subsequently, by the looks of it, has been proved to be a bad idea - it’s obviously money that could have been spent better elsewhere. It’s a waste of money.

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“You would have liked to get a positive result and let’s face it, it’s not seen in the staff’s eyes as a positive playout.”

But Mr Applin said he welcomed a review of resources, which is also being carried out by consultants, and said he hoped it would mean changes to the rota.

He added: “I would be absolutely stunned if there wasn’t. We have an independent company in and they are doing a review of our resources to see where we are deficient, I fully expect them to come back and say that we have not got enough double staffed resources, which are better for patients and it’s better for our staff.”

Since the rota changes Mr Newton has been replaced by CEO Andrew Morgan, who has also announced plans to recruit more than 350 front-line staff.

Mr Applin said: “The new CEO has come in and has a totally different way of thinking and it’s the way consultancy should have been used in the first place, in my humble opinion.”

A spokeswoman for EEAST said: “It was necessary to use independent consultancy to inform the rota redesign project, with particular focus on the demand profile and maximise the effectiveness of the resources that we had, and the cost reflects the level of expertise. We have acknowledged in our turnaround plan that we need more front line resources and extra staff, and the clinical capacity review will address this shortfall, whilst rotas will be kept under constant review.”

She added that it would be “premature to link the review with practical outcomes which may or may not happen”.