Independent review into ambulance service’s operational management during the winter
East of England Ambulance Service Trust is commissioning an independent review of its operational management during the winter following allegations of avoidable patient harm and deaths.
Sarah Boulton, Chair of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, has announced that NHS Improvement and herself are jointly commissioning a senior member of a different ambulance Trust to investigate how the East of England Ambulance Service has been led throughout this winter. This winter for the Trust has included a critical three-week spell in which 138 significant delays, including one of 16 hours and another of 14 hours, were reported.
Speaking to Health Service Journal, Ms Boulton said: “We ain’t perfect, we always have things to learn.” She has approached a senior member from another ambulance service who will head up the review.
Ms Boulton has disputed allegations by a whistle-blower that at least 40 patients were “harmed or died following significant ambulance delays”. She claimed that the full picture was not yet clear as investigations into 22 serious incidents remained ongoing. She confirmed that the outstanding incident reports will be completed over the following weeks.
She further said that she was “very concerned and upset about the delays [and wanted to] apologise to the patients that we were delayed in getting to”. She has stated lack of funding and handover delays at hospitals were “contributory factors” to the Trust’s tough winter.
The independent review follows North Norfolk MP, Norman Lamb’s call for a full review of the governance of the service. Mr Lamb, a former health minister, has been vocal in his criticism of the Ambulance Trust and has said “I don’t have confidence that the emergency care system is in a fit state to cope with these continuing pressures. My understanding is performance, particularly in Norfolk, continues to be pretty dire.”
Ms Boulton explained her hope that the outcome of the review would ultimately be the cause of the significant delays over winter and ways that the service could improve.
Darren Tamplin-Compton, Senior Solicitor and Team Leader within our Medical Negligence team, lives with his family on the Suffolk/Norfolk border, an area served by the East of England Ambulance Service Trust. Darren said:
Friends, family and neighbours are distinctly unsettled by the extremely worrying media reports of excessive waiting times for ambulances and the obvious potential for significant adverse consequences of this. I very much welcome the independent review and hope that it will leave no stone unturned and that the ambulance service will learn all necessary lessons before next winter. The BBC reported recently that MPs have been warned that the service requires 160 new vehicles in the next two years. Clearly, there are not only issues with management strategy but, fundamentally, with resourcing.
Fletchers Solicitors is a law firm specialising in medical negligence, serious injury and motorbike cases. If you’ve suffered any kind of medical negligence, then please don’t hesitate to call us now on 03300 080 321 to talk to someone who’ll understand what you’re going through.