Update from CEO Robert Morton: Some big ticket items – 17th March

Robert Morton, CEO

I want to start this week’s message by thanking everyone who came to our colleague Gary’s funeral on Friday (11th March). So many of you came to pay your respects and it showed in very real terms, how respected Gary was by many of his colleagues. It was also a timely reminder that the ambulance service is a ‘family’ - at times like that we very much stand as one.

There have been some big ticket items on the agenda over the past few days as we look to what further steps we can take to improve our responses to patients and reduce late finishes. We know this is a high priority for many colleagues, however, we also know how difficult it is to balance patient safety and staff wellbeing. To try and address this balance we have this week, in advance of the scheduled partnership forum (SPF), put a proposal to UNISON, as the recognised union, for consideration. This proposal was discussed yesterday at the joint action working group (JWAG).

UNISON is our recognised union and hence, the Trust intends to consult with staff side through UNISON through the established partnership structures. However, the Trust also recognises that not all EEAST colleagues are members of a trade union, recognised or otherwise. Hence, in the interests of transparency, the Trust has released these documents to you all today for your awareness of what discussions are ongoing.

In relation to our recruitment plans, it is our intention to gradually implement a revised operating model that aligns with the evolving changes to the NHS direction and with what colleagues have been telling through our formal and informal engagements. Essentially, this means that we’ll be increasing our recruitment across a spectrum of roles.  This is both to increase our capacity and our ability to treat more people out of hospital. Therefore, we intend to have a range of clinical roles, from apprenticeship roles through to band 6 specialist practitioners (urgent or emergency care). Progression through this new clinical career structure for colleagues will be supported by the Trust. Again, specific details on what we want to do, subject to the support of our commissioners, has been made available to all colleagues today.

Keeping on the topic of staff wellbeing, I am pleased to report that our new Health and Wellbeing Manager, Debra, has commissioned a piece of work to look at how we can connect many of the staff supports we have in place and how we should expand on those we might need. This approach is very much reflected in the feedback we received from the engagement events that many of you attended in October, November and January.

Activity and demand for our services continues unabated. Hence, I know that there is a real focus on our patient-facing issues at the moment. Our community first responders (CFRs) have continued to book on to help us day after day to support us to safeguard their communities. Of the 448 schemes registered with us, we generally have an average of 80 booked on at most. So, I am calling on CFRs to bring this up to 150 schemes if you can. We need you and your communities now more than ever.

In this context, I want to take this opportunity to thank all of our support service colleagues whom are pulling out all the stops to help. Our procurement team are working hard to source additional capacity to deploy, our operational support services are sorting out vehicles and extra equipment despite having some key vacancies, our quality development team are trying to push our CQC preparation without impacting service delivery, our patient safety team are working to provide the analysis to assure CCGs that our services are safe, our comms team are working hard to keep you all informed and engaged, our PTS and ambulance driver volunteers are also helping out too, the list goes on and on.  Thank you everyone for what you are doing to support EEAST get through this challenging time.

Have a good week,


Published 17th March, 2016

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