East: Ambulance Improvements Due In Autumn

The chairman of the East of England Ambulance service has told Heart - it'll be the Autumn before patients get the service they deserve.

The Trust has been blighted by poor performance levels including missing national targets in responding to Category A emergencies, delays in handing over patients at hospitals and not enough staff on the frontline.

Less than three quarters (74.3%) of patients were reach within the nationally set target of 8 minutes for the most serious medical emergencies in the latest 2012/13 full year period.

Staff and unions went public with their concerns that management weren't listening to the concerns of front-line paramedics and administrators.

And in February 2013, the Care Quality Commission reported the Trust failed to meet the quality standard expected by the public - never before had any Ambulance trust failed to secure that.

By last month (June 2013) all five directors had resigned over continuing pressure to improve the service and criticism it was falling short month after month.

Two new interim directors have been appointed and chairman of the East of England Ambulance service, Dr Geoff Harris told Heart "There will be no let up in the work going on to ensure we improve our performance to our patients in need. Not only in terms of response times - but in terms of doing it efficiently and within the money we've got."

Dr Harris said the two interim non-executive directors - Shelia Childerhouse and Frances Pennell-Buck are very experienced people with very strong health and medical backgrounds and will help the management team in their programme of improvements by the summer - which is when five permanent board of directors should also be in post - and when the public should see the improvements coming into place.

But Dr Harris himself is an interim chair, as is the Chief Executive Andrew Morgan; Heart asked with so many people at the time not appointed in a permanent capacity - how could staff and patients have any confidence in the organisation that it will be turned around by the Autumn.

Dr Harris replied: "I wish I could give you a 100% guarantee, but I'm afraid there's no such thing in life. The reason for appointing interim non-executive directors is to ensure the board can continue to lead the organisation properly and effectively, whilst we go through the process of making the appointments".

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