This week’s leadership message comes from Robert Morton

Robert Morton, CEO

I want to start this week by paying my respects to our colleague Alistair ‘Billy’ Harvey, who passed away recently. I know you’ll join me in passing our condolences to his friends, colleagues and family. If you’ve been affected by Billy’s death, please remember the Trust’s employee assistance programme is available 24/7, on 0800 085 1376 or you can call The Staff Wellbeing Hub on 01234 243060. His funeral will be taking place on Monday, 2nd October at 11.20am. Click here to see the full details on Need to Know.

A couple of weeks ago, the All Women in EEAST (AWE) group invited men working for the Trust to sign up to the White Ribbon Campaign, which is the largest global effort of men working to end male violence against women. This is a specific call for men to pledge to end violence against women, something I think every person in this organisation supports. Supporting a campaign like this, goes some way to highlight the men working for EEAST don’t just support the women they work with but every woman in the community. Starting on 25th November, I encourage as many people as possible to wear a white ribbon for one week. A white ribbon is a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. You can pledge your support to the campaign here.

Driver training recently underwent Future Quals External Quality Assurance visit and passed with flying colours. Well done to Andy Reid and the team for maintaining such high standards. I can personally attest to this commitment when I was recently put through my emergency driving refresher and re-assessment. Yes, it was tough!

We recently had our takeover week campaign dedicated to patient transport service (PTS). The campaign gave an insight into our staff and volunteers behind a really important aspect of what we do. Mainly focussed on social media platforms and video, you can look back on the week by using the #PTStakeover on Twitter, and users of Facebook and YouTube will also be able to view what we did. Well done to everyone involved.  PTS is a really important part of our Trust, helping patients every day. The Trust Board are clear that moving forward we need to seek to win more contracts and ensure all elements of our service delivery are fully integrated. In the future, we will be branding PTS to reflect some additional activities we believe PTS can undertake for the benefit of our patients and provide more career options for staff.

Earlier in the year we asked ACAS to support the Trust and UNISON with a review of our partnership working arrangements.  The aim of the review is to build better relationships and partnership working processes between management and staff side colleagues. This work is vital as it is in the best interests of our staff and patients that we can work collectively and collaboratively to make EEAST a better place to work and to deliver a better service to patients. I want to be absolutely clear, the Trust’s intention is to enter into a new voluntary will trade union recognition agreement with UNISON; that ensures better relationships and focussing on developing our organisation.

Recently I visited Ipswich and Colchester station and as always gathered valuable insight from those of you I met with; thank you for your time.

I also had the opportunity to listen to speakers at a MIND Blue Light celebration event in Cambridgeshire. The Trust demonstrated its commitment to the event through the presence of the Chair of our Trust Board, Sarah Boulton, while service delivery colleagues were represented by Dave Fountain. We were all pleased to hear Debra Winterson, our Health and Wellbeing Manager talk about the progress the Trust has made on our wellbeing agenda over the last 12 months and how we hope to make further progress in the future to improve staff wellbeing. Our support to mental health is highlighted through our Wellbeing Strategy and we will be inviting MIND Champions to become wellbeing advocates to be part of a Trust-wide network of support.

Congratulations to three call handlers who were nominated for a national award. Liam Harcourt from Norwich, Emma Farkas based in Chelmsford and Jaymie-Lee Morgan from Bedford were all nominated. The award identifies and recognises individuals who have made the most significant contributions to further the values and the mission of the academy through personal action. It is truly impressive given the enormity of the challenges faced daily. Well done to you all.

Work continues with the Ambulance Response Programme (ARP) and we will be sharing more information as this work progresses.

Over the last few months, we have regularly been communicating about the NHS England (NHSE) and NHS Improvement (NHSI) jointly-commissioned Independent Service Review (ISR) of EEAST which is looking at the capacity and staffing we need to meet patient demand, how to reduce demand on EEAST, the pricing and costs of our activity, the best contract model we should have with our commissioners and the overall commissioning model for a large regional ambulance service. If one of the outcomes of the ISR is that new investment in staffing is required, then both the ISR and ARP will mean we need to make changes in the future to rosters to accommodate any additional staffing and changes to our operating model. This of course will be timed and scaled according to having more staff in place against modelled levels of demand. In the shorter term this may affect some staff currently working on RRVs as we look to increase ambulance cover and we reduce RRV numbers. In a broader sense, ARP will require us to look at how we roster our people and this is something we are working to understand. In due course, your managers will be required to schedule briefings to talk about upcoming changes. I would also suggest everyone takes a look at a set of introductory FAQs has been published on East24 here http://east24/Strategy/ARP/Ambulance%20Response%20Programme%20FAQs.pdf.

Every year, we have an annual business continuity exercise which tests our directors, non-executive directors and heads of departments on their knowledge of EEAST policies and procedures to ensure the organisation meets national standards and is well prepared for any major issue. Business continuity is extremely important to all emergency services as it enables us to plan how we would continue to operate despite serious or major incidents.  I would like to thank Ian Crowson for his work putting the exercise together which given the news emerging from Australia about a possibly difficult flu season, focussed on a flu pandemic.

Finally, I would like to thank Emergency Medical Technician Vicky, who bravely shared her story on Need to Know for World Suicide Prevention Day (Sunday 10th September). The theme for the awareness day was about connecting with others and letting people know that #ITSOKAYTOTALK. Vicky’s story is truly inspiring and I’m glad she is on the road to recovery. I encourage everyone to read it.

Have a great week,


Published 21st September, 2017

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