Ambulance trust in Peterborough making progress after allegations of sexual abuse and bullying

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The ambulance service was placed under special measures last year following allegations of sexual misconduct, bullying and discrimination.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) NHS Trust has made “significant progress” in tackling sexual harassment and is no longer under a legally enforceable action plan according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The trust had been under an action plan since April last year and was placed in special measures following a damning report from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which found 13 cases of sexual misconduct by staff had been reported to the police and that bullying has become normalised.

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The report also found that a negative culture and poor leadership had left staff afraid to speak out.

The East of England Ambulance Service was told to improve last year.The East of England Ambulance Service was told to improve last year.
The East of England Ambulance Service was told to improve last year.

The action plan – including formal monitoring – had been agreed with the EHRC on April 26 after a referral from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) following the inspection in August 2020. That report found that the Trust had not done enough to address serious incidents of sexual abuse against both patients and staff.

The report from the CQC’s most recent inspection- conducted in July- recognised the improved responsiveness of the Trust to incidents of alleged bullying, harassment, and discrimination. The EHRC was also encouraged by the Trust’s commitment to continuous improvement and the ongoing actions it plans to take.

Since then, the Trust has said that it has delivered an action plan to address the concerns identified which has included enhanced training in appropriate behaviours, strengthening of the policies for handling cases of harassment and abuse, and training for managers which has led to stronger action when cases occur.

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While formal monitoring ended at the conclusion of the agreement at the end of October, EEAST has committed to making continuous improvements to protect its workforce and ensure a safe and supportive workplace.

Tom Abell, Chief Executive of EEAST, said: “The conclusion of this agreement with the EHRC shows the progress that we have made in tackling long-standing cultural issues at the Trust.

“I would like to thank all our people for their hard work during a time when our service has been under severe pressure.

“We still have a long way to go, and we are committed to continuing this improvement and building a culture which is a great place to work for everyone.”