MPs want ambulance trust broken up after 'deeply disappointing' CQC report
- Credit: SARAH LUCY BROWN
Suffolk MPs believe the time has come for the East of England Ambulance Trust to be broken up into smaller geographic areas after a "deeply disappointing" watchdog report called for improvements.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter, who is an NHS hospital doctor, said the move would enable a greater focus on local patient needs and demands as he reflected on the inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which highlighted a number of failings in the service.
In particular, the report highlighted a culture of bullying, safety issues and poor uptake of safeguarding training, while more work was needed to develop staff.
Inspectors reflected on a range of issues the service was grappling with, including staff shortages and poor response times for ambulances to reach people and poor waiting times for patients to access the hospital.
Mr Poulter said: “Whilst this is no reflection upon the skill and dedication of our hardworking frontline paramedics and a number of improvements have already been made, this CQC report is nonetheless disappointing and the leadership of the trust will need to look at what more needs to be done to improve performance for the benefit of patients.
“The East of England Ambulance Trust covers a very large region and I remain of the view that it may now be more sensible to look at breaking the trust up into smaller geographical areas which would allow more focus on local patient needs and demands.”
Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has also called for the trust to be broken up.
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She said: “It’s deeply disappointing that the ambulance trust has once again been rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission.
“The recent response times are shockingly bad and I led a meeting in parliament last week to hold the senior leadership to account for that. It is heartening that the leadership rating has improved but it’s clear there is still a long way to go for the service to make the changes required of it.
“In the past, I have called for the service to be broken up and this will need to be looked at again if things don’t improve quickly.
“As the chief executive committed to moving to a county-based model in our meeting last week though it’s important we give him the space to do that. That is a really positive step forward but he needs to get on with it for the benefit of patients.”
Patient body Healthwatch Suffolk seeks the views of service users about NHS and social care in Suffolk.
Chief executive Andy Yacoub called for prompt action to address a lack of adequate supervision for staff as supporting staff wellbeing was particularly important at this time.
However, he said some of the external problems experienced by the trust were symptoms of wider problems with health and social care services.
But "management approachability" was essential to maintaining patient safety by enabling staff to raise any concerns without fear and Mr Yacoub called for long-term and sustained action to address this.
He said: “We are never more vulnerable than when in need of our emergency services. And it is heartening to read that staff, like paramedics, continue to be passionate about meeting people’s needs in a caring manner after the past few years.
“But, right now, the intense pressures faced, as well as staff fatigue, are compromising their ability to meet expectations.
“Despite this, it is encouraging that the service makes efforts to listen to public feedback about experiences, and patient complaints are treated seriously. This will be an important part of avoiding serious incidents at this time of pressure on the service.
“Problems impacting the public are all a part of a much bigger crisis facing our entire local NHS and social care system.
“While the trust implements the necessary changes to improve, the strategic allocation of resources in collaboration with both primary and secondary care services is absolutely critical to address worsening pressures.”