Lease cars: behind the headlines

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Colleagues may have picked up on some media coverage over the weekend about lease cars.

Whilst there were a number of inaccuracies in the articles, which we have pointed out to them, it was extremely disappointing and distressing that they decided to photograph one of our managers as they went about their home life with their children; a manager, who like all our staff that are entitled to a lease car, simply followed the agreed Trust policy so they could fulfil their duties and role. A policy agreed by the Trust and the joint Chairs of our Staff Partnership Forum.  We know from your feedback that our staff are equally distressed that a colleague was subject to such an unnecessary intrusion of their privacy.

Our policy allows staff to choose the make and model of their vehicle. Those ambulance officers with lease cars are required to have a 4x4 or all-wheel drive vehicle, this was introduced in 2014 to improve the overall resilience of our fleet in the event of adverse weather conditions. If the cost of the lease is above set Trust levels, the member of staff has to bear this cost which is deducted directly from their salary. And of course the mileage rate they receive as a lease car holder is much lower than for staff using their own vehicles on business usage.  The provision of lease vehicles is commonplace across Ambulance Trusts and other Emergency Services organisations and it is disappointing that the Trust is again being singled out in this regard.

We will again be benchmarking our lease car policy and costs to ensure value for the taxpayer against other trusts who have such large geographical areas to cover and whose staff and managers need vehicles both to offer an emergency response and to travel for normal business requirements.

We will also be putting in an official complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the press regulator, about how the media have handled this story and targeted one particular member of staff.

On a more positive note it was good to see the overwhelming support that colleagues have shown for one another in dealing with this issue.  We want the Trust to have a supportive and inclusive culture that recognises the individual contribution that every colleague makes, including managers, who as we know, have a very difficult job to do in challenging circumstances.  Whilst there will always be external detractors seeking to muddy the waters, it is vital that we work together collectively as a team to focus on what really matters which is the delivery of excellent patient services. 

Thank you for the support you have shown to one another.

Published 5th May, 2016

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