EOC’s ‘perfect storm’: an update from CEO Robert Morton (1st October)

Robert Morton meets staff in Melbourn

So we continue to be challenged in delivering the expectations of our commissioners.

Time-response performance has been in decline for six months, noticeably since we largely stopped using private and voluntary ambulance services earlier in the summer. On Friday I met with our commissioners and discussed how we are working through our recovery plan – I mentioned last week that we’ve been served with a performance notice, which basically means we have to produce a plan to show how we’re going to address their concerns.

This workload, on top of our ‘bread and butter’ of trying to provide a good quality service, is creating significant pressure on everyone. I know it’s difficult right now, and I want to absolutely acknowledge the commitment that is being demonstrated across the service, every day, to achieve our goals and help improve our service to patients.

While everyone is under pressure, today, I want to single out one group for specific mention - those who work in our EOCs.  I have received a lot of feedback from all staff, however, I thought I should share some feedback from this particular group of patient-facing colleagues to highlight the particular stresses they are under. They are a hardworking, dedicated team of people with vitally important roles; this was highlighted in spectacular fashion this week as we heard news that one of our new call handlers, Sean, successfully helped to deliver breech twins over the phone. Breech deliveries are rare in themselves, let alone to be done over the phone, but Sean’s actions and the support given to him by mentor Ellie and on duty Call Handler Team Leader Tamsin have epitomised the reality that EOC is absolutely patient facing. Well done all on a great job.

But our EOC staff have told me that the frontline vacancies, handover delays at hospital, significant decrease in the use of PAS and VAS, the loss of capacity to respond to patients at vehicle inspection time, rest-break time in the middle of peak activity (exacerbated by rest break trials where crews bypass the nearest premises in order to return to their base) and the end-of-shift policy have all worked together to create several ‘perfect storm’ opportunities each day. A challenge indeed, because patients don’t stop needing us whilst we’re riding the waves.

And in addition to these daily pressures, our EOC team is working hard to transition to our new CAD. There are no quick fixes, but we need to acknowledge the stress for everyone involved in this truly huge project, and remain supportive through what will be a really tricky six months.

Going forward it’s clear that we can’t make changes without considering how they might impact on all colleagues, but I would really encourage you all to support each other in whatever way possible - even if it’s just a little extra understanding.

With best wishes,


Published 1st October, 2015

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