Thursday 28th October - Leadership message from CEO Tom Abell

It is now coming up to three months since I joined the Trust as Chief Executive. I’d like to start this week’s message by thanking you for your fantastic support so far and for everything you are continuing to do to for the communities we serve.

Nationally we are facing one of the most extreme times of ongoing pressure on ambulance services that we’ve ever experienced and want to thank you for your unwavering commitment. It is really important that you take the time to look after yourselves and your friends and colleagues.

I want to use this week’s leadership message to reflect on some of the progress we have made in some of the areas I highlighted in my message to you on my first day. 

Preparing for winter

  • We have been working to put in place additional measures to better prepare ourselves for this winter. This includes a target to recruit over 100 new call handlers. We are making great progress on this with over 50 people appointed so far.
  • We will be having a specific session on our winter plans at the Thursday Executive Q&A session shortly.


Employee relations cases

  • As I said in our first day message, we have put in place additional resources to clear our backlog of long standing cases – over 90 of these have now been closed (a reduction of over 40%) and we are aiming to resolve the vast majority of these before the end of December.


Reviewing our governance and culture

  • We have also made progress on our culture work. During the last few months we have seen over 2,000 local cultural interventions being carried out across our teams to help improve our culture and tackle poor behaviours in the workplace.
  • We have also seen a 900% increase in the number of contacts to our Freedom to Speak Up service in comparison to last year. This is an important signal that some of our systems and processes are beginning to work better and people have greater confidence that their concerns will be both heard and acted upon.
  • More than 140 of our people are also now providing wellbeing support to colleagues by acting as ambassadors, champions or mental health first aiders, which is great and thank you for everyone who has volunteered to be part of this programme. We will also be investing an additional £170,000 into staff health and wellbeing over winter.
  • We have recently received the draft reports on our governance and culture and I will share the findings of these alongside the action we will be taking once we’ve had the opportunity to discuss these with our Board and regulators.


Holding regular meetings

  • I have also been lucky enough to meet some of you during walkabouts and station visits, and to listen to your comments during our Executive Q&As. These visits and sessions will continue over the winter, so please do keep asking questions and giving your feedback.


Executive Team and leadership recruitment

  • We completed interviews for four of the substantive executive director positions last week. I will share the names of the successful candidates soon once they have been through their employment checks.
  • We have also pushed on with reducing the number of people who are in seconded leadership positions - which many of you told me were too high. We’ve seen a significant reduction in secondments and are continuing to complete this process.


As always there is much to do, and these are small steps, but I believe important ones as we continue our journey of improvement and create organisation that we are all proud to be part of. As I said when I first joined, it is only by working together that we will achieve the changes which we all want to see.

Please continue to work with us over the coming weeks and months, continue to feedback your views and continue to share your ideas for improvement.

Tom Abell - Chief Executive