Union pledges to work with ambulance service to improve services after winter pressures probe

GMB Union will work with the ambulance service to make improvements Picture: SIMON PARKER

GMB Union will work with the ambulance service to make improvements Picture: SIMON PARKER - Credit: Archant

Unionists have pledged to work with the region’s ambulance service to push for improvements after an inquiry found three patients suffered severe harm due to winter delays.

GMB Union has announced plans to support the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) to raise standards, and has also called on MPs to try working a 12-hour shift as a paramedic to understand the pressures they are under.

It comes after the trust published the results of an external review of its performance over the busy winter, which was prompted by allegations made by a whistleblower that dozens of patients had died while waiting too long for an ambulance.

The investigation focused on a period of high demand between December 17, 2017 and January 16, 2018, when the trust received more than 100,000 calls.

Senior independent clinicians found 22 serious incidents occurred over that time.

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While it was determined no patients died as a result of ambulance delays, three people were found to have been caused “severe harm”.

Paul Meddes, GMB regional organiser, said: “The GMB Union understand that there are still measures to be taken in order to improve the ambulance service.

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“There were 22 cases which were identified, by a senior clinical panel, as serious incidents taking place, which led to three patients experiencing severe harm. We as a union, regularly meet with the EEAST chief executive Robert Morton to discuss how he and his staff are working hard to improve the EEAST. Robert has stated that they have a three-year financial plan to improve the staffing level to deliver the service.

“GMB would like to see MPs like Norman Lamb to work a 12 hours shift as a paramedic to understand the invaluable job our ambulance services deliver on a daily basis.

“We also trust that the Conservative government do not take funding away from the service, as this would delay the progress that they are trying to achieve to improve the EEAST.”

The investigation also concluded the trust has an “evidence based gap between capacity and demand”.

As a result, EEAST has been given extra funding to recruit an extra 330 staff and 160 ambulances over the next three years.

The trust declined to comment on its work with GMB Union.

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