Ambulance figures reached ‘point of truth’ says chief executive
- Credit: Su Anderson
An ambulance chief has defended his service after an independent inquiry revealed ambulance delays were not to blame for the deaths of any patients across East Anglia.
East of England Ambulance Service chief executive Robert Morton said last night that it was important that “a point of truth” was reached as a result of the investigation and that the enquiry’s findings gave people a chance to “reflect on a rush to judgement.”
The analysis, carried out by senior independent clinicians from local NHS services.
A risk summit, convened by NHS England and NHS Improvement on January 30 in response to concerns about ambulance services in the east of England over winter, required an independent analysis of the cases.
It outlined how the service had responded to more than 100,000 calls from December 17 until January 16.
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A whistleblower suggested in January that at least 40 patients had died due to delays at the trust.
This led to a debate in the House of Commons suggesting 81 patients may have died due to the delays.
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The trust denied this number and said that out of 138 cases that were examined over the period 47 were declared as “potential issues” with 22 categorised as being “serious incidents.”
The trust wrote to three patients who suffered severe harm because of the delays.
The service says it will do so again to explain what happened.
Asked whether the service felt exonerated by the report Mr Morton said:“I’m not so sure it’s about being exonerated but clearly what we always wanted to get to was a point of truth.
“Back on the 20th February I remember doing a media interview and at that stage the information I had available to me suggested that no patients had died but I clearly couldn’t be sure until we had the outcome of this piece of work and I guess today’s findings do present an opportunity for everybody to reflect on a rush to judgement.”
The trust acknowledged that it had an “evidence based gap between capacity and demand” that it hoped that a new investment plan would be able to address in the coming years.
The trust said it would also be recruiting more emergency operations centre staff to improve staffing levels and “reduce human factors.”