One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Herts & Beds Ambulance Service Told To Shape Up
A Hertfordshire MP says unless he sees an immediate improvement in response times from East of England Ambulance crews; the Trust's management should resign.
Charles Walker says he's disgusted some of his constituents have had to wait for nearly three hours before an ambulance arrives.
Mr Walker's been speaking to Heart after standing up in the Commons to lambast the regional ambulance service - which along with Bedfordshire - also covers Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.
The Broxbourne MP told MPs he had no confidence in the management of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) and has now called for a Commons debate about the service.
In response, Andrew Lansley, the former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley defended EEAST by saying "Like most other Ambulance trusts across the country, they have met all their Category A (most urgent 999) response times."
Speaking to Heart, Mr Walker says explansive and difficult geography, both rural and urban was "not an excuse" for poor response times. When asked about the £50m savings the Trust has to make over a 5 year period - and the impact that could have on the service Mr Walker told Heart: "Management have an obligation to provide a service. If they can't then I suggest senior management - who are paid a vast amount of money to manage resources - should step aside and resign, and let others step up to the plate to fulfil those roles."
A spokesman for EEAST told Heart: "It is disappointing to hear of these complaints about supposed cuts when we are actually avoiding any cuts to our service, making no front line staff redundant and closing no ambulance stations despite being required to save £50m over the next five years as our part of the overall NHS efficiency savings.
Indeed we are recruiting more staff as well as working on improving response times and we are doing this by back office savings, introducing smarter working rotas and directing patients who don’t need an ambulance response to more suitable treatment so that we are more available to the people whose lives depend on us."
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