Suffolk/Essex: East of England Ambulance Service close to “meltdown” as key response targets missed
THE region’s ambulance service is consistently missing key response time targets sparking concerns the trust is close to “meltdown”.
New figures reveal East of England Ambulance Service has failed - for four of the last six months - to get an emergency response to 75% of calls within eight minutes.
Some staff are so worried they have turned whistleblowers, raising concerns with regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The trust has also:
- missed a 95% target (for five out of the last six months) for getting an ambulance vehicle to emergency patients within 19 minutes
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- seen a hike in the number of complaints, from 102 in September to 144 in October, 81 of which were related to response times
- had six serious incidents in September and October, including two “delays in a transportable resource arriving on scene” and one relating to the loss of confidential files
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- missed a target, for six consecutive months, to get 62% of stroke patients to a specialist centre within an hour of being called. September’s figure dropped to 38.3%, the lowest this year.
But the trust said it was recruiting more than 145 staff - including paramedics and emergency care assistants - and changing rotas to improve performance.
Last week trust bosses launched an independent review across its coverage region, which includes Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Gary Applin, Unison secretary at EEAST, said: “If we’re not in meltdown now, we’re not far off. It’s very worrying.
“From our own perspective we have complained and said we have got to do something. It feels like we’re hitting our heads against a brick wall and it’s starting to hurt.
“They have instigated an independent review of resource allocation and that needs to be from the top down and that needs to involve every level of management and staff. It needs to be acted upon and there needs to be more investment.”
Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “I’m pressing for a debate in parliament on this.
“It’s a major concern for me and it’s just not good enough, frankly.
“I’ve got a meeting with the trust in February and it’s just a case of keeping the pressure up. We need a step-change in performance.
“We should have had a number of staff starting in Suffolk this month which should improve performance.”
A CQC spokesman said: “CQC has contacted the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust regarding information highlighted to us anonymously about staffing and response times and we are in receipt of a response from the trust with regard to these matters. We are monitoring the service closely in line with our regulatory responsibilities, which will include further unannounced inspections, and are working with our partner agencies with regard to the trust.”
A trust spokesman said: “The trust has responded directly to the CQC. It should be noted the trust was visited and inspected by the CQC earlier this year and was found complaint in all areas.”
He added the six serious incidents would undergo “full root cause analysis” to establish what happened. But he said the figure of six incidents in two months was in line with the trust’s average over the last year of 4.5 each month.