Regulators step in after concerns about troubled East of England Ambulance Service

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The East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) has reiterated its commitment to patient safety after regulatory action has been taken against the Trust by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following their recent inspection.

Although the report is yet to be published, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) has reported that the CQC has taken urgent enforcement against the Trust.

In 2019, the CQC flagged up concerns with the troubled Trust. The report said, “We have significant concerns that the instability in the executive team meant that the trust would not be able to drive necessary improvements forward.”

The report in the HSJ said, “There had been little or no improvement in non-compliance and breaches of regulations on mandatory training, medicines management and ensuring staff were competent for their roles. The trust was not meeting national response times for urgent calls and its culture was “mixed” with concerns around grievance processes.

“The trust was found to have breached legal requirements and issued with six requirement notices including around response times, embedding governance and risk management processes, medicines storage and training.”

A spokesperson for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the East of England, said, “We are providing additional support to the Trust and seeking assurances that actions are taken to address the organisation’s culture and governance, as well as ensuring that effective systems are in place to support staff and patient safety.

“The trust has already started to address some of these concerns and we will be closely monitoring progress through regular oversight meetings.”

Bedford MPs, Richard Fuller and Mohammad Yasin have both asked to meet with the CQC team urgently. A meeting with Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has been arranged next week.

Dr Tom Davis, medical director for East of England Ambulance Service, said, “We are absolutely committed to making sure all our patients are looked after safely, and our staff work in a positive and supportive culture.

“The Trust is working closely with regional colleagues from NHS England and Improvement to address concerns raised following a recent CQC inspection. Our Board is fully aware and we are working hard to address these concerns as rapidly as possible.”

Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford and Kemspton, told the Bedford Independent, “I haven’t seen the CQCs latest report, as it has not yet been published, but the knowledge they have had to make an intervention is a very concerning sign that the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is not getting to grips with its systematic failures.

“This is particularly worrying as the NHS faces the prospect of a grave winter crisis, with extra demands as a result of seasonal illnesses and COVID-19.

“I will be joining the meeting next week alongside the CQC, MPs, government ministers and the EEAST in order to gain a better understanding of the issues.

“I will do all I can to ensure the Trust can resolve its issues and provide a safe and reliable service in the coming months.”

Richard Fuller, MP for NE Bedfordshire, said, “Like other East of England MPs, I was concerned to learn of the urgent enforcement actions against the Trust and as a group of MPs covered by the East of England Ambulance Service, we have asked to meet with the CQC’s inspection team urgently.”

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