‘Everyone is under pressure’: an update from CEO Robert Morton

Robert right side in cab alt   WEB

We’ve talked for a long time at EEAST about the tremendous pressure that we’re under as a service. In fact, that pressure has been so consistent that it’s feels like it has become the norm rather than the exception for all of us.

The issues are compounded by the ever increasing rise in 999 demand, the higher acuity of our patients, student paramedic abstractions for training and mentoring, hospital handover delays, the dramatic impact of the new NHS Ambulance Quality Indicator (AQI) Guidance while trying to prepare for our forthcoming CQC Inspection – and these issues inadvertently have a knock-on effect on the whole service, whatever role you support. I am very aware that constantly ‘fire-fighting’ makes it difficult to do the new things we need, and want, to do to develop and improve.

We are continuing to adapt and make changes where we can; following feedback from Health Education England (HEE) and the Higher Education Institutes (HEI) about how prepared they believe some of our students are to make the transition from an internal vocational type programme to the university based academic environment, we’re working with HEE to consider what changes may need to be made to  the length of the current student paramedic programme, to give students more time to achieve what we and the universities are expecting of them. I should reiterate that these are discussions only, but they are relevant discussions to have - our patient-facing colleagues across the patch are under incredible pressure to complete the mentoring parts the programme at the moment.

HEE and the HEIs have identified and discussed with us their belief that our current approach to mentoring may be exaggerating this pressure, something we will be reflecting on immediately. Both ourselves and HEE and the HEIs recognise that we need to ensure that the BSc university students that we’re hosting on placements have a positive and engaging experience to the same extent as our own internal students; I am delighted to have them here with us – they are our colleagues of the future and I really want to make sure they have a supportive, positive learning experience whilst they’re here. Not only must we work to retain existing staff but we must also use this opportunity to ensure is an attractive employer for the paramedics in the making. We are also developing our recruitment plans for the year ahead, so that we can continue to rapidly increase our patient-facing staffing which will help ease some of the pressure. We will have further news on this in the coming weeks.

In other news, I hope you will have heard by now that Chelmsford EOC successfully moved over to our new Cleric system in the early hours of yesterday morning. This brings all three control rooms together on the new CAD – a fantastic achievement for our Trust. The problems faced during all three go-lives were minimal considering the scale of the project, and that’s purely down to the teamwork of everyone involved. Well done to everyone involved at every stage of this project.

I’d also like to pass on my congratulations to Darren Jones this week, newly elected Unison Chair, and my sincerest thanks to Steve Imrie, who had flown the flag in the role for many years. Steve’s efforts helped to bring in many positive changes for colleagues and the Trust alike, and I look forward to seeing the Trust strengthening partnership with the new team.

And I want to end on a story this week that for me embodies what we’re all here for. You may have seen in the news that two people collapsed and went into cardiac arrest at the finish line of the Cambridge half marathon on Sunday. One of our own paramedics from Cambridge, John, had himself just run the marathon and happened to witness one of the patients collapsing; needless to say he sprang into action and was quickly joined by on-duty colleagues. Between John, Mark (also off-duty), Bob, Niya, Crystal, Andy, Joe, Matt and Rachel, and volunteers Nathan and Douglas, the teams managed to get a ROSC on both patients. We heard news yesterday that both are now recovering well in hospital. That’s two people that, thanks to our colleagues, will be able to go home to their families. We might face challenges here at EEAST every day, but patients are what it all comes down to - and why it’s worth the effort.

Have a good week.


Published 3rd March, 2016


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