A scandal-hit ambulance trust is hiring private ambulance capacity, reviewing holiday arrangements and asking hospitals to accept transfers more quickly following an intervention by national regulators over its performance issues.
NHS England and NHS Improvement outlined these and other measures after a risk summit held on Tuesday with East of England Ambulance Trust, along with regulators, commissioners, and other providers in the region.
HSJ exclusively revealed last month a’dossier complied by a senior whistleblower from an ongoing internal review.
The document said 40 patients died or came to harm, and a whistleblower warned the true number could be double that.
In a joint statement released today, NHS England and NHS Improvement said the trust would conduct a “thorough” patient harm review into serious incidents over the winter period, and said the trust would “take steps to improve staff availability at peak times, including action to improve staff health through flu vaccination and reviewing the trust’s leave policy.”
The statement also said the trust would deploy extra staff and vehicles between now and Easter, hiring some vehicles from the independent sector.
The statement said: ”CCGs and other providers of NHS care across the region will implement measures to moderate the use of ambulance services, using safe alternatives wherever possible” – although it is not clear what these measures will be or how hospitals can accept patient transfers more quickly than they already are.
MPs from the region criticised the absence of senior directors during the period when some paramedics had their leave cancelled.
The trust could not confirm how many additional staff and vehicles it would source, or what the proposed changes to leave policy would be, as HSJ went to press.
In a statement East of England Ambulance Trust said: ”We welcome the feedback from this summit and will be working closely with partners and staff to meet the actions. The Trust always wants to learn how it can improve the service we provide to patients.
“Each of the potentially serious incidents recorded while the trust was experiencing high levels of demand are being investigated internally. These will also be thoroughly and independently reviewed to ascertain whether patients were harmed. This will be concluded by Easter.
“The families concerned will be the first to be informed of the findings of their loved one’s cases.
”In the interests of patient safety and to ensure the rigour of the review, the list of potentially serious incidents highlighted by MPs will be shared with us and included in the review.”
Joint NHS England/NHS Improvement release