PERFORMANCE: The Department of Health has asked an experienced ambulance service chief to carry out an independent review of the troubled East of England Ambulance Trust ahead of an expected critical report from the Care Quality Commission.

Anthony Marsh, the chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service Foundation Trust and the chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, was called in to offer advice on how to make quick improvements.

The East of England trust has missed a number of key targets in recent months. In January it missed both the eight minute response target for the most urgent calls, and the 19 minute target for less urgent calls.

It performed particularly poorly in Norfolk, with less than 63 per cent of “category A” emergencies being reached within eight minutes. The trust has had severe problems with ambulance turnaround times at hospitals in the area, sometimes resulting in much of its emergency fleet being stuck at local hospitals.

Norman Lamb – MP for North Norfolk – arranged for a group of paramedics from the trust to meet his fellow health minister Lord Howe earlier this month to discuss concerns, including morale at the trust.

Other MPs in the region have also expressed concern and some have told local newspapers board members should consider their positions.

Its chief executive retired last year and it is now headed by interim chief executive Andrew Morgan, formerly NHS Norfolk chief executive.

Mr Marsh’s findings are expected to be ready within six weeks.  However, the trust is awaiting a CQC report following an inspection which is expected to be published before then.

Mr Morgan said: “Anthony Marsh is carrying out a review of the trust to gain an independent insight into what we do, how we do it and most importantly how we could improve our service. He will be focusing on getting quick results to ease pressure, in particular how we can improve performance in emergency operations.

“Chair Maria Ball and I met Anthony and I have provided him with details on key issues and contacts. It is hoped at this stage that the review will be completed by the end of April.”