The challenges facing the region’s under-fire ambulance service have been laid bare by a new report which reveals that the organisation will need more than 400 extra frontline staff over the next four years to meet demand.
The East of England Ambulance Service has been criticised by MPs across the region this year for slow responses and has been ordered to improve by the health regulator, the Care Quality Commission.
The results of the NHS trust’s clinical capacity review, carried out by a specialist emergency services consultancy, commissioned by the ambulance service, says that the organisation had a “significant resource requirement” for 2014/15 to meet national targets and commissioner standards.
Board members of the ambulance trust, which is trying to recruit more paramedics, set out their response to the review at a public meeting in Ipswich.
However, a draft copy of the report, reveals that the organisation will need to put at least 23 extra double-staffed ambulances (DSA) on the region’s roads in 2014/15.
The review also recommends:
l The ambulance service needs 310 extra staff in 2014/15, 55 in 2015/16, and another 55 in 2016/17.
l The trust needs 38 more A&E ambulances in 2014/15 and six more rapid response vehicles.
Norman Lamb MP, health minister, welcomed the recommendations, but called on the trust to act on the review.
“They have made promises they did not keep in the past,” he said. “It reinforces the impetus to get the chief executive position sorted out and I am putting pressure on nationally to get that resolved.
“We need leadership to drive change. They need to strip out layers of management to invest in the frontline and they need to get on with that.”
Andrew Morgan, interim chief executive, pledged to hire 350 more frontline staff earlier this year, of which 231 would be paramedics and specialist paramedics by the end of this financial year.
However, whilst the trust hired 44 qualified paramedics and three specialist paramedics in the first nine months of 2013, figures earlier this month revealed that 40 paramedics left the NHS trust between January and September.