Upgrading our fleet and estates

Ambulance line up blue sky

The updated fleet and estates strategies were discussed at the Trust Board yesterday (29th March). 

These strategies, which set out the principles of how we need to move forward, require more detailed work and will take a number of years to implement. As this work develops, we will keep you informed.

Our estate is largely inherited from the three former ambulance trusts when they merged more than 10 years ago, and some of our sites are not fit for purpose, and don’t support staff. Currently we spend more than any other ambulance service in England on our estate, which means we are spending more on our estate than we should be. We could deliver a better service to our staff from implementing a modern estate with make-ready services (a process where ambulances are washed and equipped prior to the crew arriving for their shift), and facilities to support staff wellbeing.

To be clear, this is not a station closure programme. This is about making the most of our estate and working with partners to share more facilities and buildings to help increase our presence in the community, especially in rural areas. So our estate may look different and we may be in different premises, but we will be looking to extend our reach.

More detailed analysis will now start to develop a final set of proposals around where the 18 depots will be located, and the supporting network of community ambulance stations and shared facilities. This will improve staff access to line managers and enable EEAST to develop better health and wellbeing facilities, which we can’t do on our existing estate. As plans are finalised locally we will involve staff, much as we have done when we developed new stations in west Hertfordshire, Southend and Chelmsford.

We will also be starting a piece of work to look at our EOCs, as we know that we are running out of space and they are not fit for purpose.  This is a long term piece of work and will take some time to complete. As you may be aware, a number of ambulance services nationally have reviewed the number and location of their EOCs over the past few years, and part of our review will also consider how many control rooms we need to deliver our services in the long term. 

The review has not started yet and we will of course keep you updated and involve our EOC teams in this process. We know what we need - space to grow into as our demand increases, fit for purpose working areas, highly resilient buildings that have disaster recovery facilities and an estate which sets us up for the next few decades. This will be a long term piece of work (i.e. likely years) and we would like to reassure you again that no decision has been taken on closing or moving any specific EOC.

In terms of fleet, we are looking at how we can deliver the most modern fleet that supports better patient care, improves efficiency and reduces emissions.  As part of this work, we will be trialling two new ambulance designs. These have been developed with staff as part of our vehicle working group. The vehicles will be tested with staff on ambulance stations across the region so that we can gather feedback, which will help inform the evolution of the final decision.

These new ambulances will allow us to embed more technology to support staff delivering patient care and could save the Trust money, which will also support an increase in patient-facing staff. Feedback around the concepts of some of this new technology has been excellent, and we are looking forward to testing out the new vehicles and getting your views.  The review is also looking at whether we should bring in various fleet maintenance services in-house and reduce our reliance on external suppliers.

Published 30th March, 2017

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