A seven point NHS action plan has been revealed after concerns were raised about the ambulance service which operates in Peterborough.
A ‘risk summit’ has identified “a number of actions that were needed to secure greater resilience for regional ambulance services,” according to NHS England.
The summit on Tuesday was held following comments made in the House of Commons by Norwich South MP Clive Lewis who said a whistleblower had told him the East of England Ambulance Service had become “critically overstretched as a result of high demand” on December 19 last year.
Mr Lewis added that a decision to move to the highest state of emergency had been delayed for 12 days, and that during that period 20 people died in incidents when ambulances arrived late.
The Peterborough Telegraph also reported yesterday (Thursday, February 2) on pressures in the local health service, with photos showing numerous ambulances waiting outside Peterborough City Hospital.
More than 800 hours were lost by the ambulance service in December from handing over patients at the hospital, while the hospital’s chief operating officer said it had been under “unprecedented strain” this winter.
NHS England said: “The risk summit identified a number of actions that were needed to secure greater resilience for regional ambulance services. Some of these actions are for the East of England Ambulance Services Trust (EEAST) and some actions are for the wider NHS.
“The key actions are as follows:
1. EEAST will deploy additional staff and vehicles between now and Easter. This will include securing additional vehicles from independent providers
2. EEAST will improve its ability to forecast demand as part of strengthened winter planning
3. EEAST will 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
4. Local hospitals will be asked to accept prompt handover of patients from ambulance crews in order to release the crews for other calls
5. EEAST will improve its internal escalation procedures to deal with periods of high pressure 6. 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
7. Any Serious Incidents that occurred over the winter period will be subject to a thorough review process to ascertain whether patients were harmed.
“There will be a follow up meeting in a fortnight to review progress with each of these actions.
“NHS Improvement and NHS England will also establish enhanced monitoring to ensure each action is fully implemented over the coming months.”
The risk summit was co-hosted by NHS Improvement and NHS England and was attended by representatives from: The East of England Ambulance Service, its lead commissioner Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, the Care Quality Commission, Healthwatch Suffolk, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, Queen Elizabeth NHS Foundation Trust and Health Education England.
The East of England Ambulance Service said: “EEAST and its NHS system partners will work together on actions to further improve joint plans for current and future services.
“The summit identified a number of actions that were needed to secure greater resilience for regional ambulance services. Some of these actions are for EEAST and some actions are for the wider NHS.
“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.”