This week's leadership message comes from CEO Robert Morton

This week I wanted to acknowledge the dedication of our staff - particularly those who have been assaulted while doing their job.

There have been a spate of assaults in recent weeks and no member of the emergency services should have to put up with being verbally or physically abused. I wrote to MPs before Christmas to make them aware of our #DontChooseToAbuse campaign and to ask for their support with the current Bill before Parliament to make assaults on an NHS worker a specific offence. It is vital we lobby to ensure we #ProtectTheProtectors.

What humbled me in particular was the bravery shown by a female colleague whose attacker was sentenced for sexual assault last week. In spite of all she had been through, she was determined to continue doing her job and make sure she helped convict her assailant. Our colleague’s powerful statement was cited by magistrates, who noted that this attack had happened in a confined space and was on a person who was carrying out their job. It demonstrates the importance of reporting incidents and pursuing assailants. I would also like to thank Anne Wright for her unwavering commitment to staff safety as our LSMS, and for her commitment to supporting those staff who face challenges like these whilst at work. 

Last weekend was a busy one for operational teams, particularly those in Essex and the RCC. I would like to commend their efforts, along with the on-call teams. For those of you who were not aware, one of our off-duty Norfolk staff was involved in a motorcycle collision at the weekend. I wish him a speedy recovery. I was also concerned to hear one of our ambulances was involved in a serious collision while responding to an emergency call on Saturday. While both our ambulance staff involved walked out of hospital with minor injuries, the driver of a third-party vehicle suffered a serious injury. I wish him well. 

Given the amount of time we spend on the roads and with our valuable vehicles, there are many avoidable incidents. We are aiming to launch a public campaign for drivers to explain what they need to do when they see/hear an ambulance. We also need to reduce instances of collisions as it can affect the numbers of vehicles on the road. We have established an accident reduction board to that end. Disappointingly, we have learned that 40 per cent of accidents are unreported and 20 per cent are caused by reversing alone. The level of incidents and vehicle damage arising from reversing is also unacceptably high and points to issues regarding driving behaviour and team working. We would all agree that it is unacceptable not to report any knocks or bumps immediately so we can ensure vehicles are fit for the road and, if not, mended quickly. Reduced fleet due to avoidable incidents compromises patient safety.

We have undergone an important piece of work this week checking with members of communities with a special interest in how we are doing against our outcomes reported in our Equality Delivery System 2. This is a specific piece of work to make sure we are paying mind to those people who sometimes are not obvious in our communities, but have clear needs, such as those with disabilities. Sarah was also able to join a meeting to invigorate the LGBT network. It was great to hear about the energy this meeting generated to make positive changes in the future.

Thank you to those who have stepped forward to be part of this summer’s working parties to build better rotas. If you want to get involved, it is not too late and please see this week’s article https://ntk.eastamb.nhs.uk/news/building-better-rotas.htm Information is coming out regularly about rotas and it is important you continue to check back on Need to Know, East24 and stay in touch with your line manager to get the latest updates.

I hope many of you have started to enjoy the arrival of spring. Pressure on the service is easing, however the protracted nature of winter means everyone in the organisation is tired from the relentless workload. Every ambulance trust has experienced a difficult winter. However, we are recovering quicker than many which is down to you. Well done.

The Trust Board has demonstrated great patience but now is the time to address some long-standing legacy issues when it comes to staff-side relationships. The feedback from many managers and staff is that they want the Trust to ensure we have a productive recognised trade union in place for those staff whom want to avail of trade union representation and this is why we have taken the decision that the ACAS review of partnership working has not achieved the desired outcome. 

Many colleagues have told me of their frustration about the constant negative media commentary, which they believe to be generated by a few. Don’t forget that we are organisation which delivers outstanding and compassionate care to our patients. Our partners continue to have confidence in us. We all know we need more investment in capacity and what is most helpful is gathering support from our partners for investment.

As Sandy Brown left, he mentioned that in his time here EEAST had undergone 20 reviews. We are probably the most reviewed ambulance trust ever! What has shone through every review is the commitment to our values demonstrated by the vast majority of our people, regardless of where they work. Remember, #WeAreEEAST and we have much to be proud of.

Published 19th April

 

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