Update from Dr Anthony Marsh - March 13, 2014

Dr Anthony Marsh

Thanks to a lot of hard work from a lot of people we’re now taking some big strides in terms of our new vehicles, recruitment and training pathways. Our first cohort of 15 ECAs have successfully passed their six week conversion course on the EMT pathway and are now on their way to completing their operational portfolios; the 27 additional ambulances have now been delivered around the patch and will all be in service by close of play tomorrow; and we’ve shortlisted more than 1,000 student paramedic applications, who are now moving onto the assessment stages of the recruitment process. The first student paramedic course that starts in April is almost full, and we’ve started to make offers for the May and June courses as well. Well done to all involved – we’re making good progress.

All of these things ultimately add up to a better service for our patients. They make up some of my top priorities for the service, the rest of which will be shared at the next Board meeting on March 28. It’s important that we keep focused so changes continue to happen quickly and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes as well - I’m hoping to publish the new proposed structures next month.

We’re also looking to start moving staff out of Cambourne over the next few weeks. Myself, my office and the communications team will be moving to Melbourn by Easter, and the remaining Cambourne staff will be moving to locality offices like Bedford, Chelmsford and Norwich as soon as they are able to. It’s important to reiterate here that moving our headquarters to Melbourn won’t impact on HART or the training centre already there, but it will mean that the HQ is better connected to the organisation and the people delivering care to patients. We will have use of the Cambourne building until summer next year, so will be making this available for student paramedic assessments until then. I will continue to keep you updated on all these issues but in the meantime, as always, please do email me directly or contact rumourbusting@eastamb.nhs.uk if you have any questions about an aspect of the service or the work we are doing.

Outside of EEAST, I have been working with other ambulance trusts, hospital colleagues and commissioners as part of an urgent and emergency care forum to respond to Sir Bruce Keogh’s review last year. Our response was published on Monday (March 10) and it includes some specific ways ambulance services can take a bigger role in making improvements to the NHS – the details of these are in a later article in this issue. We have proposed longer-term solutions to the growing problems in urgent and emergency care and not just ‘sticking plaster’ ones. Ambulance services play a key role in all of the three broad areas of the forum’s report - patient’s access to care, emergency care networks and empowering staff. The report also encourages the development of more community-based services and the enhancement of paramedic practitioner roles, something we are ideally placed to take forward.

One of the other points in the report is that NHS England should allow local areas the freedom to setup networks suitable for their population needs and this point is particularly important for the way EEAST works. With such a mixture of rural and urban areas in our region, the three new locality directors in the operational structure will really be able to make decisions based on the needs of their areas, yet will still have an influence on the organisation overall by being on the Board. I really believe this report can have positive impacts on our Trust and the NHS in general and I will update you on our progress after the next national steering group meeting.

In other news, the Trust has published some really good media stories this week, including call handlers in Norwich being praised in a recent patient experience surveyour CFRs teaching people in Stevenage how to do CPR and the Bishop of Bedford’s visit to HEOC. We will also be welcoming 13 Essex councillors to our HART base in Great Notley tomorrow (March 14) to show them the work we do and we will be tweeting during their visit (follow @EastEnglandAmb). Small steps go a long way and I’m pleased we’re getting more positive news in the media.

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