Update from Robert Morton - 3rd September 15

Robert Morton ambulance OPT

It’s now almost two weeks since I joined the EEAST family, and what a week this one has been. I can’t claim to be ‘EEASTified’ just yet but the journey has begun.

Getting to grips with any organisation and its makeup, both in terms of people and geography, is one of the most exciting parts of a ‘new job’ and it’s been a great pleasure to start really getting to know this ambulance service.

So what have I been doing over the past nine days? Amongst other things I’ve spoken with some of our commissioners, completed media interviews, talked to some of our union colleagues, dug into our operational and clinical performance, explored our patch, and most importantly of all started to meet, talk and listen to our people.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to stop and talk to me about what you do – it’s been really helpful in allowing me to build the big picture of what we do well, and what changes are needed to help us do things better.

What became really clear to me was that you are all absolute experts in your own field. As an example, I spent some time with Keith and Chrissie, ambulance fleet assistants at Chelmsford, and our vehicle cleaning operatives in Beds & Herts, and it was a real pleasure to hear them talk about what they do in such detail and with such pride. They play a pivotal role in helping us meet quality standards.

I spent time in Bedford EOC, and had a brief talk with some of our Chelmsford EOC team (I’ll be back to spend more time with you and to visit the PTS control room there), all of whom spoke so enthusiastically about their roles, and the challenges that go with them.

That said, it does seem that as an organisation we have a few roadblocks that we need to either move or try and work around.

For example, a number of you on stations in the south of the region mentioned how we have to compete with London and its higher cost-of-living payments when it comes to recruitment, which has led to big vacancies in parts of Hertfordshire and Essex. On the recruitment itself, I know the training and education team has been under immense strain to move hundreds of new students through the system very quickly – a task that cannot be underestimated.

There are also some operational rules in place that seem to create a restrictive framework for our EOC colleagues to work in; having now spent some time in our EOCs, I can see we’re making it very difficult for dispatchers in terms of what resource they are able to send to what job, at what time. On a similar line, both frontline and EOC staff have spoken to me about the current restrictions around double ECA crews – I spoke to one of our Essex ECAs, James, about this in particular. I’m going to be looking into this further and asking a few more questions, so I’ll feed back to you as soon as I can.

On the non-ops side of things, Geoff and Rachel in estates spoke to me about the need for a long term plan for what to do with our estate, and the importance of sticking with it; and the clinical audit team said we need a better ePCR system so we can use clinical information to actually change and improve the care we give patients.

But there are some really positive things happening too; DLOs Martin and Victoria shared some exciting developments that are coming with the TRiM programme that will create a more supportive and positive impact on our people, and I have asked Martin to share this work with other leaders as I think it will support positive cultural change. I also heard about the fantastic mentoring and support that’s being offered from colleague to colleague in Luton; and was told an incredible story about ECA Neil at Chelmsford station, who recently saved a two-year-old girl whilst on holiday after she went into cardiac arrest. Inspirational indeed.

So many of you have a passion for this organisation and what you do – I wish I could mention more of you in person as you all had your own stories to share.

And I very much look forward to meeting more of you (and hearing more of those stories and your ideas), very soon.

Have a good week,


Published 3rd September, 2015

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