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East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust loses training over safeguarding fears

News / Mon 19th Jul 2021 at 08:53am

AN ambulance service can no longer train apprentices after inspectors found a “significant minority” experienced “inappropriate behaviour” reports the BBC.

Ofsted visited the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) Newmarket Training Centre in Suffolk in June.

Inspectors said the trust, which was forced to tackle sexual harassment, was “too slow” in making changes.

EEAST said it hoped to transfer its 661 apprentices to a new training provider. 

At an inspection in June 2020, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found EEAST – which covers Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire – had not done enough to ensure staff and patients were protected from abuse.

It culminated in the trust having to sign a legally-binding agreement with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

At the time, CQC inspectors said they had received information from seven whistleblowers related to “safeguarding patients and staff from sexual abuse, inappropriate behaviours and harassment”. 

Thirteen cases of sexual misconduct by staff had been reported to police, the health watchdog said.

Ofsted said that while the number of staff in the safeguarding team had “significantly increased”, this had not stopped “inappropriate behaviour that a significant minority of apprentices still experience”.

Leaders did not encourage apprentices to discuss low-level concerns, relied too much on service-wide surveys and therefore had an “overly optimistic view of the issues that still exist”, the report said.

Given the history of issues, managers were “too accepting” of reports which claimed there were no safeguarding concerns at the training centre, and failed to investigate, Ofsted added.
Inspectors also noted leaders took “swift action” when concerns were raised, including removing staff from their post.

As a result of Ofsted’s findings, the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) withdrew its funding for level 3 and 4 apprenticeships at Newmarket.

EEAST said all learning for emergency medical technicians and emergency care support workers would transfer to another organisation, but it would continue to employ apprentices and provide clinical training.

It had “reviewed and strengthened” processes for safeguarding training, invested in a “culture programme” to tackle poor behaviour and encourage learners and staff to raise concerns, and used data “more intelligently”.

Tom Davis, interim chief executive of EEAST, said: “We want every staff member to have a positive experience of our organisation.

“We’ve since put further changes in place to strengthen our safeguarding training and student support, and will be undertaking a detailed review of our education and training provision so that we can improve student experience now and in the future.

“We’re working closely with partners to make sure the transition to a new learning provider is as seamless as possible for our apprenticeship students and are determined to make improvements so that these learners feel well supported while they continue their clinical placements with us.”

EHRC said it was looking into its agreement with EEAST, given the Ofsted report, but was unable to confirm anything at this stage.

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