Our busiest time of year: An update from CEO Robert Morton

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December and the festive period is always our most demanding time of the year and tomorrow we go into what is traditionally known as ‘black Friday’. So to highlight the work of, and the pressures on, the service and you as our staff and volunteers, we will be tweeting for 24-hours from the frontline. You can follow the tweets which will start from 7am tomorrow morning, with four hours in each EOC followed by 12 hours on an ambulance in Cambridgeshire. This morning, you may have caught staff from Luton ambulance station who appeared in a Good Morning Britain feature on winter pressures across the festive period. The piece hopefully gave viewers a good insight into the work our patient facing staff do. Thank you to all who organised and took part.

Of course every winter is difficult, but this year is extremely challenging.  As you know we are under pressure (like every public sector organisation) to save more money yet at the same time improve our performance and service to patients. Indeed if we do not make the required improvements in our service we may well be fined by our commissioners – which results in additional money being taken from us, money we then cannot invest in our patient facing services. At the same time we are working hard to improve the service through projects such as implementing the new CAD and I want to pay tribute to all our staff and managers who are helping us move the organisation forwards positively.

Since I joined I have had feedback from staff on a whole range of issues. Two in particular that have been flagged many times to me are around how we dispatch our patient facing staff: firstly, why we don’t send ECA/SAP crews to some red calls as a first response; and secondly why we continue to send emergency responses to those patients who don’t actually need a physical response.

We are reviewing our resource allocation guidelines and how we manage our lowest acuity calls. For example, too often we are automatically sending a response to Green 4 calls before we even know if they need a physical response which puts more pressure on RRV and ambulance crews and potentially delays our response to those patients in greater need.

Progress in these areas would hopefully also reduce some of the pressure on you and support our efforts to reduce late finishes.  We know that we need to do more work in this area which is why we continue to work with our clinical commissioning groups to encourage 111 providers to improve their triage prior to referring calls to us, are looking at setting up trials to increase cover at shift changeover, have better targeted use of PAS, continue recruitment of patient facing staff, and trial admission avoidance schemes such as the ECP car in west Norfolk. To keep the issue of late finishes at the front of our work, we held a workshop with Unison today, to keep moving forward and better support our staff.

Finally, we received some extremely pleasing news this week; earlier in the summer the NHS Trust Development Authority visited the Trust to review the provision of our infection prevention and control, and sadly they identified a number of breaches against the required criteria. They undertook a follow up visit in October and November and they wrote to us this week thanking all of you for the significant work that you have undertaken on stations and against the action plan to address the concerns they raised.  This is another example of what we can achieve when we work together and all pull in the same direction.

Have a good week.

With best wishes,


Published 17th December, 2015

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