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More than 170 staff have been “exited” from an ambulance trust due to poor behaviour over the last three years, its chief executive has said.

East of England Ambulance Trust CEO Tom Abell gave the figure whilst speaking publicly about the trust’s efforts to address long-standing cultural problems.

He told a session at NHS Confed Expo that he did not want to “bottle” the decision to tackle the issue, even if it meant challenges in providing services.

Mr Abell, who became CEO in 2021, said: “We’ve exited probably over 170 people from the trust since I started, for issues around culture and behaviour. It’s not just about being fluffy and engaging; it’s around actually taking practical symbolic action.”

One of the most high-profile issues at the EEAST came in 2022, when around 30 staff were suspended for sharing “inappropriate messages” on social media.

HSJ revealed last week that the trust still faces ongoing problems, with internal staff surveys finding increasing proportions of staff reporting bullying or harassment in 2023.

Pretty vacant

It has been described as a “sunk cost” for integrated care systems. And — according to new figures obtained by HSJ — it was a rather large one last year. 

The issue relates to empty space in buildings managed by NHS Property Services, a government-owned body that looks after around 10 per cent of NHS estate.

Where tenants cannot be found, ICSs are left to pick up the costs for the rent and other charges.

Systems paid the quango more than £60m for vacant space last year, according to information obtained by a freedom of information request.

Three ICSs picked up around a third of this cost. South West London, Mid and South Essex and North East and North Cumbria spent £21m in total on void space last year.

Sources said it can be tricky to find tenants willing to pick up the costs of occupying these properties or take on random isolated spaces within otherwise occupied buildings.

Some of the largest costs, however, were related to buildings whose services had been vacated and not yet replaced.

The figures also interestingly revealed private finance initiative buildings or those with similar arrangements tended to incur much higher costs for empty space.

Also on

This week, our Mythbuster Steve Black highlights the crucial role of management and support staff in improving healthcare delivery and cybersecurity resilience, and in North by North West, Lawrence Dunhill takes issue with the decison to drop a landmark reconfiguration of surgical services in Greater Manchester.