Suffolk: MPs meet regulator over region’s ambulance service

SUFFOLK Coastal MP Therese Coffey has met with regulators to discuss the performance of the region’s ambulance service and its application for foundation trust status.

She was joined by her Waveney counterpart Peter Aldous and Bury St Edmund’s David Ruffley.

Bosses from the East of England Ambulance Trust are currently applying for foundation trust status in a bid to have more control over how services are delivered.

But concerns have been raised over performance figures and Dr Coffey called the meeting with Monitor - the independent regulator that will determine if foundation trust status is granted - to highlight certain issues.

“While I do not have concerns on their financial performance, I do have considerable concerns on the consistency of ambulance services to patients in rural Suffolk,” she said.

“I outlined specific issues to Monitor on response times, complaints handling and the seeming lack of monitoring of performance delivery by the trust board on county by county level.

“I was pleased to be joined by Peter Aldous and David Ruffley. MPs are working together to press for a consistently good level of ambulance service.

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“There is more to do including a key meeting with the chair of the ambulance trust in early November to further discuss constituents’ concerns.”

Mr Aldous added: “Therese organised the meeting and I thought it was appropriate to attend. In the last couple of months I have had a significant up turn in the number of complaints about the ambulance service - both from patients and people who work for the trust.

“I think the question is if its appropriate to be applying for foundation trust status - which most people view as a badge of excellence - when there are issues that need to be addressed.”

The region’s ambulance service has come under fire in recent months for failing to meet response time targets, especially in rural areas. Chief executive Hayden Newton has also announced that he will be retiring early.

A spokesman for the trust was unavailable for comment yesterday but it has already said that under Mr Newton’s leadership the service has consistently hit the targets that it was commissioned and funded to meet.

“During his time as chief executive, Hayden has moved the trust to a stable and sustainable organisation compared to six years ago,” the spokesman previously said. “In this time paramedic numbers have increased significantly, the services the trust offers are more tailored to individual patients and there have been significant improvements to the quality of care provided to patients.”