This week’s leadership message comes from Deputy Director of Operations Support, Paul Henry

Paul Henry NTK

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself as there are a number of colleagues I have not had the opportunity to meet yet.  The ambulance service has been part of my life for 34 years. Whilst I come from an operational/ paramedic background, the last decade has been devoted to working with a great support team looking after our needs in fleet, clinical engineering, supply, estates and make ready. Every one of my colleagues within operations support understands the importance of providing their services and contributes fully in their own way to the delivery of patient care.  I am proud to be a part of the team.

My teams are now on a mission to transform our fleet and make ready services. It’s a mission we’ve chosen to accept, and along with the new estates plan, we have dived straight into this massive project.

All of our transformation work will inevitably improve patient services. Our aim is to develop a new lighter, modern ambulance, that’s a technology hub and is inter-operable between emergency and urgent care roles.  Our existing design of emergency ambulances has served us well, but we need to evaluate alternative designs and ambulance equipment to ensure  we are at the forefront of fleet support.  

Our new ambulances need to take account of the changing world in which we live and in particular the need to provide an optimum clinical environment for our patients and  people.  As a result of our professionalised education and learning model it is not unusual now to have three people on our ambulances.  We need to re-think the use of space and ensure  patient and staff priorities including the safe conveyance of PPE, and food can be accommodated effectively within a restricted space. It’s a big ask, and as our vehicles are not a Tardis we need to manage the push and pull of competing needs. The only way to get this right is to test our ideas and concepts with real evaluation vehicles in an operational environment. 

We will be trialling four concept ambulances, each with different features and equipment developments to gather feedback from  colleagues. User feedback is absolutely critical as it is on this basis that we will design the new EEAST ambulance, which  needs to be completed in design specification by June next year.  The evaluation ambulances will be circulated throughout the region and hopefully a large number of staff willsee them and  share their thoughts.  To ensure we get as much information as possible, each vehicle will come with a tablet device to enable staff to tell us what they think. We want to hear everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. We will keep you up to speed about when the vehicles will be in your area and regularly update you as the evaluations continue.  We will of course involve members of our vehicle working group, many of whom have had involvement in our work to date.

As stated our vehicles need to be modern, lighter and inter-operable, and we need to move from a 5 tonne platform to something much lighter at 4 –4.2 tonne.  We are testing the market for vehicle platforms of the right size and payload. We are not in any way wedded to a van or a coach built ambulance or to a particular manufacturer.  Three of the four vehicles are Fiat Ducato by virtue of the fact that this platform is one of the few that can meet our needs currently.  Vehicle number four will be a Ford based variant on a 4.1 tonne platform, so we are spreading our interest as opportunities present to us. We will continue to trawl the market for other suitable vehicle platforms. 

In addition to testing our ambulance designs, we are also taking stock of what is out there and we will be testing a wide range of new equipment such as ventilators, trolley cots and carry chairs.  We want to identify what can make a tough role easier.

New ambulances are only part of the story and we need to ensure  what we operate is supported by a modernised maintenance and logistics service, embedded within a wide network of up to 18 make ready services facilities. This significant investment is designed to ensure  operational vehicles and equipment is prepared in a standard and consistent way to maximise availability of skilled clinical resources for patient care.  A team of dedicated staff will deliver these services, the objective being to free front line clinicians to do what they do best – to care for patients.

These are huge change programmes that offer us a wonderful opportunity to do things better for patients and staff alike.

Have a great week,


Published 28th September, 2017

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