Suffolk snubbed in multi-million pound ambulance investment
A multi-million pound government grant handed to the region’s ambulance service will bypass all sites in Suffolk, it has been revealed.
The £6.5million investment, part of a nationwide funding boost for the NHS’ 70th birthday, was earmarked for fast-forwarding plans already in place to improve fleet preparation, supply and estate operations at East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST).
However, the grant money has been restricted to improvements at just ten existing sites, none of which are in Suffolk.
The bases that will benefit from the investment are in Chelmsford, Great Yarmouth, Hemel Hempstead, King’s Lynn, Luton, Norwich, Peterborough, Southend, Stevenage, and Watford.
GMB, the union for ambulance staff, welcomed the decision by the Department for Health and Social Care to invest in the trust.
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It said the money will be used to “create a network of modern hubs and community ambulance stations across the region” as well as “invest in their make-ready model and facilities”.
The grant comes after a recent report by the Care Quality Commission gave the trust an overall rating of ‘requires improvement’ for whether services were safe, effective, well-led and responsive. The rating is unchanged from 2016.
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Paul Meddes, GMB Regional Organiser said: “We are delighted at the news that the East of England Ambulance Service Trust has received such a significant investment from the Department of Health and Social Care. This investment will improve facilities and save crews time, meaning they can increase their availability to respond to patients in the community.
“We are aware there are still measures to be taken in order to improve the service, with the most recent CQC report demonstrating exactly where they require improvements. However, this is now a great opportunity for the EEAST to start making these improvements.
“There has been an issue with staffing at the trust, but EEAST Chief Executive Robert Morton has already said that they have a three-year financial plan to improve the staffing level to deliver the service.
“We will continue to meet regularly with Mr Morton and the EEAST to discuss and offer any help we can on how to move forward from here.”