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East of England ambulance service unable to fill paramedic vacancies

Politics / Mon 9th Dec 2013 am31 11:34am

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EAST of England’s ambulance service has set out the steps it needs to take to deliver safe, high quality and sustainable services over the coming years. At their public board meeting more was heard about the challenges facing the service and how these were being addressed, including their failure to recruit more paramedics despite recruitment drives.

The Board discussed the clinical capacity review which was commissioned to identify what resources the ambulance service needs to meet patient demand and targets across the region. The review identifies many of the performance issues publicised over the last year – wide variations in performance across the region, efficiency and productivity issues, and lack of capacity. However, it adds more depth and understanding to the extent of each of these issues.

One conclusion the report draws is that once the Trust optimises the efficiency with current resources, there is still a substantial shortfall between the resources available and the resources required consistently to achieve current national and potential future local performance targets.

This is equivalent to more than 30 ambulances and seven rapid response vehicles, although it will be higher still at daily peaks in demand. It is estimated that the additional resources required will cost in the region of £25-30 million per year.

In terms of vehicle hours per week, this means a required increase of 5,250 ambulance hours and 1,204 RRV hours over the next three financial years.

Notwithstanding an extensive paramedic recruitment programme, the Trust has been unable to fill all current vacancies. Therefore, whilst every possible avenue is explored to maximise paramedic recruitment, a review of the workforce plan and operational model will highlight where the ambulance service might mitigate this shortfall in the short term.

The Board heard that the Trust is looking at how it can increase the number of emergency medical technicians and the development of exciting new career pathway progression plans to retain and develop the brightest and best in the ambulance service to grow its own people and talent.

Trust Chair Dr Geoffrey Harris OBE said, “Transforming our ambulance service is going to take time – possibly three to five years, but we have made a good start. We know the issues we have to address, we have a plan in place and we are making changes and seeing some early signs of improvement.

Chief Executive Andrew Morgan said, “It has taken us a long time to get to this point, but we are starting to make headway. The issues we faced were deeper and broader than anyone realised, but we are starting to make progress. Part of that is tackling sickness, which is going in the right direction, as well as the downward trends in our longer response times.”

He continued, “Making this a high-performing ambulance service is going to require us all to pull together – staff, managers, stakeholders and the public.”

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