This week's leadership message comes from Chief Executive Robert Morton

It is a week on since Sandy’s message about the incredible pressure the service is facing, and we are still feeling the immense winter pressures squeeze us from all sides.

I know without a doubt that it is thanks to the commitment and hard work of all our staff, managers and volunteers that we have been able to keep going during these challenging times. You all continue to live and demonstrate our values for teamwork and care. Thank you.

With this in mind, the Executive Team took time today during our Executive Leadership Board to reflect on the pressures our Trust and our people have been under in recent weeks. The Executive Team were unanimous in their view that we should continue to target any potential funding that can be identified on producing as much response capacity as possible to support our patients. However, the Executive Team also agreed that we should find a way to ring fence some level of funding to support the recovery of the personal resilience of any of our people whom have been exposed to the unique and unprecedented pressures experienced over that period.

In this regard the Executive Team have agreed to the development of a once off and unique initiative for staff working during that period. Whilst no details have been finalised I am pleased to say that the focus of the initiative will be on the Trust making an individual contribution to support employee wellbeing. Details of this initiative will emerge in the coming weeks.

Following the 10 days at REAP 4 (extreme pressure), earlier this week we returned to REAP 3 (severe pressure). You will be aware that as a Trust we work under REAP 3 all year however continually working at REAP 3 means we do not have any surge or surplus capacity so effectively this means you are all working very hard, all the time. When we then see further unprecedented surges in demand, as we have done over this winter, and move to REAP level 4, we know that the safety of our service and what we deliver is down to the further efforts, hard work and commitment of all our staff and volunteers.

The Independent Service Review (ISR) has now been completed and whilst we haven’t received the final report, we know it highlights the need for further investment in the Trust. This report is key in helping us address many issues we face, such as the need for more capacity to allow us to deliver the service we want to our patients to allow crews respite. We hope this will take our CQC rating upwards, along with our ambition to “move to good and beyond”.

The ISR will now be considered by the regional directors of NHSE and NHSI and we anticipate to hear this month if the report has been accepted. The outcome will then inform negotiations with commissioners for our contract for the 2018/19 year. We will start to brief our key stakeholders in the coming weeks around ISR and the way forward.

Handover delays is not a new issue but during these past weeks they have increased further at all our Acutes, with significant delays at most hospitals. The subsequent impact of having so many crews queuing with patients, unable to get back out to help patients has been extremely difficult for all. The successful implementation of our Patient Safety Intervention Teams across the region is helping to make a difference for both our staff and patients. Over the festive period these teams saved an amazing 1,121 DSA hours for crews. Thank you to Matt Broad, Terry Hicks and the team who have worked hard on this scheme to help make it a great success for the Trust.

The New Year always brings new challenges and resolutions, and for our Director of Communications, Chris Hartley this is certainly the case. Chris made the decision to change his career and fulfil a long-harboured ambition to move into the clinical arena. Thankfully he is staying with the Trust and begins his student paramedic training very soon. I’d like to personally thank Chris for his contribution to the Trust (so far) during his tenure in leading our communications team and wish him all the best in his clinical career.

Wayne Bartlett-Syree, Director of Strategy and Sustainability updated you all with the wonderful news last week that we have now signed a three-year contract to provide patient transport services in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire. We are delighted to be awarded this contract and believe it was secured on a sustainable footing. I am also really pleased that we can offer Agenda for Change terms and conditions for those joining us to work on the contract.

Moving forward, a robust management structure will be put in place to make sure we not only execute the contract but deliver a high-quality service and outstanding care to these patients. I look forward to welcoming many new staff from the contract's previous provider, Private Ambulance Service, as they TUPE over to join us at EEAST. I know you will make them feel welcome and part of the team.

Finally, I’d like to pay my respects to our colleague Dilys Jack, who passed away this week. I know you’ll join me in passing our condolences to her friends, colleagues and family. If you have been affected by the death of Dilys and need some support or guidance, please contact The Staff Wellbeing Hub on 01234 243 060 or wellbeing.info@nhs.net or contact the Trust’s employee assistance programme on 0800 085 1376.

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