An update from Robert Morton, Chief Executive (23rd February)

Robert left side in cab smiling   web

I would like to start by expressing my sadness at hearing the news that three former colleagues at EEAST have passed away. Kevin Robey, an emergency medical technician (EMT) at Ipswich station throughout his 20- year career, Neville Parry who worked at Saxmundham, and Essex EMT David Keating. Three much loved colleagues, who dedicated many years to the service and to the patients in their communities. I know you’ll join me in passing our condolences to their friends, colleagues and families. We’ll make sure to share Kevin and Neville’s funeral arrangements to you as soon as we can. David’s are already available on Need to Know.

An announcement about the Ambulance Response Programme (ARP) is expected in the coming months. Sheffield University is finalising an evaluation of the initiative. The results  will inform how the programme is taken forward and what changes to current targets are likely to occur. All indications to date are that the Department of Health will still want to stick to a majority of time-based targets. Ideally, we would want to see the target focus shift to clinical outcome indicators, however, we can all see from the ongoing media coverage about ambulance services in England that the public we serve and our MPs continue to assess the effectiveness of an ambulance service based on time rather than outcomes.

However, we also know that work will be undertaken to refine the current clinical outcome indicators that do exist. We will be advocating that they are more focussed on influencing patient outcomes rather than the current time targets for stroke and STEMI. We will bring you more information as it unfolds.

We’ve been hitting the headlines this week about the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) improvement notices that the Trust received last year. Since receiving them, we have developed a range of systems and processes for monitoring working time and rest breaks in accordance with the Working Time Regulations and responded in writing to the HSE in the required timeframes. The Trust met with the HSE at the beginning of the month and it was agreed we would continue to implement our planned approach and write again to the HSE with an update by 9th March.  This work is in addition to other wellbeing initiatives introduced by EEAST in partnership with UNISON last year to reduce late finishes for staff and to ensure that staff are more likely to be able to take their meal breaks. 

The Trust Board met this week and worked through what a new surge plan might look like. It’s clear that the current plan is highly reactive and somewhat ineffective. Some of the demand management actions we take need to be implemented earlier to prevent significant stacking of calls across meal breaks and end of shift windows. We will make this plan available once it has been finalised and approved by the Trust Board.

Norovirus is alive and well across the region, and both myself and Director of Service Delivery, Kevin Brown have noticed that there are still some patient facing colleagues who are not following the ‘bare below the elbow’ approach to prevent infection and transmission. Line managers will be required to address this issue to ensure we are not putting ourselves, our colleagues, our patients or our families at risk. You can see some guidance on why it’s so important on Need to Know.

And finally, this weekend, staff at Luton station are opening the doors to the public for its charity open day. On Saturday, 25th February, there will be bake sales, advanced life support demos and lots of family fun. All donations will go to Luton based charity, Keech Hospice, which provides essential care to adults and children who have life-limiting and terminal illnesses. I hope you can get there if you can. Good luck to the team at Luton!

Have a good week,


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