Update from Robert Morton - 24th September 2015

Robert Morton ambulance OPT

I want to start my message today by sending heartfelt thoughts and best wishes to our ambulance colleagues who were involved in a serious collision this morning (24th) near St Albans whilst on duty. It’s not appropriate for me to share names here, but please be assured that we are very much thinking of you both and will continue to do everything we can to support you and your families during your recovery. Thank you to all of you who pulled out all the stops at the scene to care for our crew and the two other patients involved. Times like this really bring home that we are one ambulance family.

I’ve visited more stations on my travels this week.  Interestingly, despite being spread out across the patch the messages coming back from each place are largely similar – career development, the use of ECPs, the need for better triage, and it feeling extremely busy being just a couple of examples. 

There are also some interesting themes making an appearance across patient transport services (PTS); people are concerned about job security, and our Peterborough & Cambridgeshire colleagues are worried about losing our non-emergency contract. Career development reared its head here too, as so many of our PTS team would like the chance to develop into emergency ops. I had a really good chat with fellow-Irishman Kevin in Huntingdon about these issues – it was a pleasure sir. 

As well as those wider issues that we’re all experiencing, over the last seven days I have also been inundated with emails from individual staff about issues or questions that remain unanswered or unresolved. When coupled with the backlog of employee relations issues, some of which are outstanding for prolonged periods, there is reason to believe we have, at the very least, some deep rooted cultural problems. It is far too early to determine whether or not these issues are localised or Trust-wide. Should the latter be the case, I will consider commissioning a cultural review once we have had the opportunity to consult with key stakeholders.

Elsewhere across the week I attended a strategic community first responder (CFR) meeting and reiterated the important part our volunteers will continue to play in our future; I went to the ePCR project board to talk about the new system that we plan to procure, and the need to make sure it fits both our current and future clinical needs; and I also met with some of the executive team. Amongst the many other things we discussed, we agreed to delegate authority to managers to approve the filling of patient-facing funded vacancies without needing the approval of a director. This is an important step in empowering managers to lead and manage. Another big ticket item at the meeting was performance; we continue to remain well below target despite the hard work and efforts of everyone. Our commissioners have now served us with a performance notice and we have been requested to submit a remedial action plan to show how we’re going to change things. 

Lastly, I want to thank Dave Fountain, Steve and their teams for the hugely successful opening of our new West Herts station on Friday. Some well-deserved credit must also go to the estates team for making the whole thing happen, which I know was no easy task! I had the pleasure of meeting one of our chaplains, Lynda, there. It was good to talk to you Lynda and I look forward to hearing more about the important role that you and your chaplain colleagues play in supporting our people.

I’m going to be sending out a round-up like this every other week now, with the weeks in between dedicated to talking about a specific subject. 

With best wishes,


Published 24th September, 2015

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