We Are EEAST Briefing - Thursday 3rd June 2021


The latest We Are EEAST Briefing features our Interim Chief Executive Dr Tom Davis.

Good afternoon and thank you for joining me this afternoon on the live Q and A event. My name is Tom Davis, I’m the Interim Chief Executive. For those of you that have joined me on one of these sessions before, please as you hopefully know by now, use the Q and A for any questions and I will try and answer them as we go along. If I can’t answer them I’ll come back to you, and if you would prefer to ask your question outside of the forum then please do so through my email or through the OCE email.

I wanted to start today by recognising the importance of a step we have taken this week that was in the news very much yesterday around the use of body worn cameras. As people may or may not know, over 3,500 ambulance staff across England are physically assaulted in the last year, and those numbers continue to rise. So, it’s absolutely paramount that as a sector and as organisations, we look to do everything we can to protect our staff and our volunteers from those opportunities of harm from outside of our control.

The body worn cameras are going to be rolled out in some areas of the Trust as part of a pilot, and as part of the national ongoing pilot. The cameras are not always running. They are there, as with our police colleagues, to be started if a clinician or volunteer feels threatened by the situation that they find themselves in. Trials have shown that this has been successful in both preventing situations from arising and calming down situations as they may escalate. But it has also been used for positive outcomes for those ambulance staff in prosecutions by the police against the perpetrators of those assaults.

So, more and more information will be available of that trial as those pilots continue. I would like to thank our colleagues who were part of the national media campaign yesterday, and I know that it has been extremely well received nationally, and obviously I hope that internally that is also the case.

Very much linked to the safety of our staff is the wellbeing of our staff, and we’ve commenced an enhanced wellbeing support programme this week shaped by the feedback that you continue to give us around our culture here at EEAST through the multiple forums and surveys that we continue to carry out. This programme brings together a range of support including mental health first aid, staff engagement groups, and it is focussed on building a positive culture at every level of the organisation.

We know that we can always do more, and the Stronger Than You Think programme is being finalised to then provide additional support for people’s mental health and resilience in particular. This programme is a programme that will support people by signposting them to self-assessments, and then through to resources such as pod casts and such like to support those self-assessments. There will be briefing sessions made available to our managers, and resources will be available on East24.

Just on that engagement and feedback that has enabled us to develop and further enhance our wellbeing support. The pulse survey has been completed in the last week, and we’ve had over 800 responses, so that you to everyone that has provided their views, and we will be analysing those, or the team will be analysing those. As with previous surveys, everything will remain anonymous, and the themes and trends will be shared, but the specifics of people and place will remain anonymous so that we continue to increase people’s confidence in speaking up and speaking out.

It’s Volunteer Week, and there are videos from staff and leadership teams celebrating Volunteer’s Week on Need to Know. We’ve talked regularly in the last nine months, but before that as well, the absolute difference and value our staff do, but also the difference and the value that volunteers add to both supporting our staff and our patients. Those of you who are not aware of the huge range of volunteers that support this organisation, please do have a look at those videos and it will give you a feel for the variety of people that support their own communities, but also volunteers to support the wider organisation.

So, we continue our work alongside the regulatory world. Today I was at the Oversight and Assurance Group again, which is a monthly meeting held with our regulators, and we were able to provide further evidence of the progress that we believe we are making. We heard from the Communication’s Team about the recent survey, another survey, but important that we do these, and again, in the next couple of weeks we can share the feedback about our comms and engagement approach has or hasn’t made a difference.

We’re also expecting soon to receive an inspection from OFSTED, and that’s to evaluate the quality of training that EEAST provides to predominantly our apprentices, but obviously OFSTED will be interested in the broader training that we provide, and there will be webinars made available so that managers can be briefed and be able to feel prepared for an inspection. So, we encourage as many people as they can to attend the briefing, and obviously these inspections will be announced at short notice, and the support will be given I’m sure, well I know, as I have seen the plans, to all that may be involved.

If you are watching this on playback, which I’m told many people do, then please do send your questions to the OCE inbox and I will endeavour to respond as quickly as possible.

We talked in recent weeks about performance in Covid, and specifically we have not focused on that today as there are other important updates that we wanted to give. But it is still clearly an issue at the forefront of the organisation’s challenges. The weather, which I am struggling not to melt in this afternoon, is obviously not going to help with the demand that an ambulance service and emergency care service is seeing.

So, with all that in mind, it is really key that we continue to follow the guidance for Covid, including the latest travel guidance, which is obviously front and foremost in the national press at the moment with the green list either expanding or not expanding depending on what time you read the papers and which paper you read. Please do use Need to Know as a link to that latest travel guidance. Clearly the Trust will support staff who are adhering to the guidance and can’t do anything about the guidance changing. But if you do have any concerns before booking travel, please speak to your managers.

The other important group of staff that we are supporting through the guidance are those staff who have been working at home and have not yet returned to working at our sites. We will continue to follow that guidance, and as people know, that may change and may change later than planned. Please do have those conversations with your line managers. Line managers are able to work with you to carry out the full risk assessments, and the output of those risk assessments and discussions will enable you to return safely to work when it is appropriate.

It is absolutely key that we continue to allow our front-line staff to deliver care in a safe and effective way to our patients, and therefore those of use that don’t work on the frontline but be conscious of that when returning to the office. We talked in the past about leadership teams coming out to station sites, and that again will only be with the support of a risk assessment that says we are not putting people at greater risk than we need to.  

So, I will thank everyone for their time and please do keep raising the questions, keep speaking up and speaking out, and we will continue to listen and continue hopefully as we believe we have been, to take action, to address people’s concerns. More importantly, with the weather and with the pressures that the health service is seeing during the pandemic and urgent emergency care, please look after yourselves. Don’t become one of the patients if you can absolutely avoid it, plenty of fluids is the message I recall that we need to push for summer, and today is one of those days. But please, stay safe, look after yourselves and take care.

Thank you.