Suffolk: Vote of no confidence in ambulance boss

AMBULANCE staff have announced a vote of no confidence in their chief executive over changes they claim will put patients at risk.

Cost cutting, a reduction of emergency vehicles and staffing levels have been cited as reasons behind the dramatic move by members of the GMB union.

Members have written to chair of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) expressing no confidence in Hayden Newton, claiming he is “pushing changes in rosters and for less staff and vehicles which runs the serious risk to patients”.

But the trust said bosses are in talks with their “recognised union” UNISON over planned changes to rotas, which are aimed at ensuring staff levels better meet demand.

Tony Hughes, GMB organizer for staff at EEAST said: “GMB members have recently written to the chair of the East of England Ambulance Service expressing a vote of no confidence in Hayden Newton as the chief executive of the ambulance service.

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“Over the past few weeks GMB members have been informed by management that they wish to change their rotas and the reason given that this will improve patient outcomes.

“At this point, from the information that has been provided to GMB we can see no benefits to patients.

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“It seems clear that the motivation is to cut costs, as in many areas there is a reduction to vehicles and staffing levels.

“As the figures show, the trust is just about meeting the eight-minute target and not meeting the 19-minute target for category A calls.”

Mr Hughes added: “Due to the nature and method of consultation, this has been delivered as a ‘fait accompli’ and as far as I can see this will do nothing to improve patient outcomes and has the potential to actually make matters worse.

“At this stage I do not believe that the chief executive has the support of the staff and is able to lead the trust in a manner that will provide the best service to the people our members serve.”

An ambulance spokesman said: “The EEAST has been in discussion with its recognised union – UNISON – on the matter of rota redesign, which is about making sure the trust has staff and vehicles on duty when patients need them.

“For example, in most places we currently have as many staff on duty on Wednesday afternoons as we have on Friday night.

“Given that demand for ambulance services is much higher on Friday nights, this cannot be right and this is what we are seeking to address.

“Following an extensive engagement programme with staff the trust is also discussing its plans to improve patient care with other stakeholders and will now of course, as part of this, be responding to the GMB.

“Eighty-four members of staff, out of a work force of 4,000, have raised these concerns but the trust must change its rotas so that patients get the response when they need it.”

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