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East of England Ambulance Trust

Volume 566: debated on Tuesday 16 July 2013

6. What plans he has to meet the acting chief executive of the East of England ambulance trust to discuss that trust’s recovery plan. (165203)

The NHS Trust Development Authority is working with the trust to review its action plan and monitor progress in response to the findings of the recent governance review and the Marsh report. Ministers will keep the situation under review.

Is the Minister aware that, in spite of the efforts and professionalism of front-line staff, the organisation has been badly led and has lurched from crisis to crisis? Does he have confidence in the new management team and the recovery plan? Does he not agree that the time might have come to break up this large organisation and move it into smaller units that are closer to the communities?

I thank my hon. Friend for that question and his diligent local campaigning on the issue. He is absolutely right that the Marsh review highlighted a failure of leadership at the trust and in the trust board as well as a disconnect between the front-line staff, who work effectively and well, and that leadership. We now have a new team at the top and we must give it time to respond to the Marsh report and put in place the right measures. I believe that efficiencies can be made at a back office and regional level, but there is a good case for ensuring that more localised data are presented about ambulance response times countywide.

The East of England ambulance service is failing to meet the needs of patients on the Secretary of State’s watch. The hon. Member for Waveney (Peter Aldous) has said:

“This did not used to happen.”—[Official Report, 25 June 2013; Vol. 565, c. 19WH.]

The hon. Member for Witham (Priti Patel) has said:

“Lives are put at risk.”—[Official Report, 25 June 2013; Vol. 565, c. 2WH.]

Does the Minister agree with those Members, and does he believe that clinical outcomes for patients in the east of England have been affected by the collapsing service over which he has presided?

The hon. Gentleman would do well to heed the Marsh review before asking his questions, because it highlights a fundamental, systemic failure of leadership at the ambulance trust which dates back to the last Government’s time in office. As we know, the number of NHS managers in the east of England rose by 86.4% under the last Government, but there was a lack of connection between the managers of the trust and front-line staff. Government Members are promoting clinical leadership, and trusting clinicians and front-line paramedics to deliver a much better ambulance service. I suggest that the hon. Gentleman should prepare his questions more thoroughly in future, and should read the Marsh review before he asks them.