Update from CEO Robert Morton: tackling 13,000 additional calls

Robert Morton, CEO

I hope that most of you will have seen the update sent out to colleagues yesterday about the relentless increase in demand that we’ve been experiencing.

I’ve talked about this a lot so to put it into real terms - we took more than 85,000 calls last month, compared with just over 72,000 this time a year ago, and we took more 999 calls on Sunday (6th March) than we did on New Year’s Eve. That extra 13,000 calls is a staggering number, and when that extra demand is combined with other issues like hospital handover delays (to which we lost more than 7,000 hours last month), it forces our hand to take some immediate actions. The update gives a full breakdown of these so please take the time to read it, but I hope that I and the Trust can rely on everyone's help in supporting these measures in any way that you can. We must work through this difficult period, together, in the interests of our patients and each other.

In other news, I had a very constructive meeting with our MPs in Westminster yesterday (9th March). We discussed a range of issues including the pressures on the service currently, the need to develop the ambulance service and our staff so we can treat more people either at home or over the phone, the need to continue to build our capacity and recruit more patient facing staff and the work we are doing around our culture and the cultural review. It’s pleasing that our MPs were supportive of our approach.

We’ve heard this week that someone has been arrested in link to the disgraceful assault on one of our volunteers last month. Being subject to any kind of abuse, verbal or physical, in the line of duty is unacceptable and simply won’t be tolerated by myself or the organisation. We will be supporting our police colleagues 100% to try and bring this person to justice. Please continue to report and raise any issues on Datix so we can investigate and take action where appropriate.

Our Care Quality Commission (CQC) visit is just four weeks away now. The focus groups we’ve arranged on behalf of the CQC are taking place next week, which are essentially confidential sessions where you can speak to members of the CQC directly before the inspection. It’s an opportunity that doesn’t come around often, so please take the time to attend one if you can. If you haven’t already had a look at it, it will also be worth reading our CQC guidance leaflet; it has lots of information about what the inspectors will be looking for, and what kind of things they might want to oversee or talk to you about if they visit your station or office. If you have any questions, please email our internal EEAST help team and they’ll come back to you as soon as they can.

Have a good week,


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