Supporting and protecting our staff and patients: update from Robert Morton

Robert Morton, CEO

I was deeply saddened to hear that Keith Marshall, one of our most popular community first responders and a member of the Trust User Group, had passed away. Keith was well known throughout the Trust but particularly in Suffolk, where he spent much of his time volunteering. I had the pleasure of knowing Keith and I am writing to his wife Mary, to express our condolences on behalf of the Trust. He will be sorely missed.

Supporting and protecting patients is absolutely essential in everything we do.  Firstly, we must be focussed on providing the best possible response to our Red 1 patients. These are the patients who are most likely to need our help immediately. We know that in these cases, time could make a significant difference to their outcome, especially for people in cardiac arrest or likely to go into cardiac arrest.  Therefore we need all staff with a clinical qualification, in whatever area of the Trust they work or whatever role they undertake, to be available to respond to these calls.

This is now unavoidable as the Trust is under sustained pressure, due to the significant gap between our capacity to respond and the demand and lost hours we continue to experience. Everyone is under tremendous pressure, working hard, doing everything they can to deliver services to our patients. It is the hard work of everyone in the Trust at every level, in every department that has enabled us to make the progress we have.

But we still need to carry on with the day to day routine. I am aware that there is a significant variation in the completion of patient care records across the Trust and this is something we must all address as a matter of urgency. Having spoken to our Medical Director Dr Mark Patten, he has, as our Caldicott Guardian, raised his concerns about the number of incidents which don’t have a patient care record completed or available. Mark will touch more upon this with his guest blog next week, but until then, we have an article on Need to Know covering why it’s so important we complete them.

As you may have seen in the media this week, we have been doing a lot of work on the threat of violence and aggression towards our staff. Thank you to everyone who has come forward to share their experiences. Hearing these stories and seeing the 19% increase in staff assaults in the last year shows we need to look at more options to keep you all safe, not only from actual assaults but the threat of one too. We plan to look to other emergency services and ambulance trusts to see what we can learn from each other. We need to explore what technology is available and which we should deploy. By looking at other ambulance services that already deploy such technology, we can see where the use of internal CCTV cameras has been of huge benefit to staff as evidence if allegations are made against them. We’ve also seen where the use of externally facing CCTV has been used to prevent staff from being prosecuted for road traffic offences.

In other services, the use of body cameras have been used as a means to inform the prosecution of anyone who assaults or threatens our staff. These technologies have been deployed successfully in many ambulance services and it is now time that we also need to review, evaluate and consider our options for embracing such developments. We will work together with staff side before any decision is made. 

I would like to thank and congratulate everyone who was involved in last month’s Restart a Heart day. We as a Trust trained one of the highest numbers of people in cardiac care across any of the ambulance services in England. I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Catley as our lead for the community collaboration team. This is an important step in fulfilling our long overdue promise to our volunteer colleagues to establish a volunteer support unit. Once this VSU is established, the next immediate step will be to establish our proposed Volunteer Advisory Forum (VAF).

And finally, this week, I visited Burnham, Canvey and Corringham stations and had the opportunity to speak with a couple of colleagues about what are the hot topics of the day. I was also pleased to hear about another ambulance service winning a workforce award at the HSJ awards. I know that Kevin Brown worked closely with the project before joining us, so well done to the team. As the weather continues to deteriorate, please keep safe out on the road and thank you to everyone for your continuing hard work.

Have a good week.


Published 24th November, 2016

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