Ambulance staff have rallied to the defence of their outgoing chief executive after his tenure was criticised by an East of England Labour MEP.
Alex Mayer wrote that Robert Morton had overseen “three chaotic years” at the helm of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST).
She added: “I welcome the resignation and hope that a new chief executive can be found swiftly who will put the concerns of staff and patients at the heart of every decision.
“Our ambulance service can and must do better. Patients deserve it and so do our hardworking paramedics.”
But responding to the MEP on Twitter: Mr Morton himself said: “@EastEnglandAmb not contacted by @alexlmayer since becoming an MEP. 4500 staff & 2000 volunteers helped 1.6m patients last year. If she has concerns, she hasn’t told us directly or through union partners. Will write to Alex to ask what her concerns are @GMB_union @UnisonEeas.”
The official Twitter feed for the ambulance service’s Emergency Operations Centres said: “The CEO of over 4500 staff, countless volunteers, 6 counties... @EEASTCEO will walk away with head held high, he will be sadly missed and hard to replace, but then we’re just “call takers” and “ambulance drivers” in the eyes of the uninitiated...”
Diane Dingley, who has worked for the East of England Ambulance Service for 10 years, tweeted: “Another groundless and uneducated comment from the uninterested....... get your facts straight before you make statements in future. @EEASTCEO will be sorely missed by the staff and will be a hard act to follow!”
Andrew Beardlsey, an ambulance service emergency operations manager, said: “I’d welcome your resignation. Please check, check & check again your facts before you pass incorrect & inaccurate information out to the public. Please do get in touch with one of my many colleagues who have commented and we will arrange for you to come and spend that day with us.”
Luke Squibb said: “@EEASTCEO was one of the best CEO’s we have ever had. Would welcome @alexlmayer to spend a day with one of our Peterborough crews to experience the real challenges faced on a daily basis.”
Ashley Richardson, an ambulance service clinical lead in Cambridgeshire, said: “I feel that you have a misguided understanding of the challenges that face the staff of the ambulance Trust - politicians should work alongside the organisations that support the constituency. As @LukeSquibb1 suggests, would be good to spend a day with us and our staff.”
Adam Bright said: “Such a shame that considering your position you appear to be unaware (or uninterested?) of the facts. @EEASTCEO has fought hard to deliver positive change for @EastEnglandAmb employees. We would love for you to take @LukeSquibb1 up on his offer to understand the real challenges.”
Mr Morton’s departure was announced on Friday evening.
It comes a few months after it was revealed that ambulance delays last winter had caused five people in the East of England a degree of harm, while three people were caused “severe” harm.
In addition, the ambulance service was rated as ‘Requires Improvement’ a couple of months ago following an inspection, while there have been media reports of patients waiting a long time for an ambulance both in and out of Peterborough.
The ambulance has also now sent out a press statement.
Its chair Sarah Boulton said: “For three years Robert has successfully secured long-lasting changes on behalf of patients and staff. Together, we have found a talented and steadfast board to lead a wider team to deliver those improvements.
“The biggest achievement of the board he built was to secure a six-year contract with our commissioners. This means we can recruit more staff over the next three years and increase the numbers of ambulances we have on the roads.
“As a result we expect to see improvements in performance, particularly in the least densely populated areas of east of England such as Norfolk and Suffolk.
“Robert’s legacy is a great one. He has had the vision and compassion to get us into a great place and our highly skilled board members will continue on their course to leading EEAST to becoming a high-performing trust.”
Mr Morton said: “While I feel privileged to be the chief executive of EEAST my future plans mean I cannot commit to a further three years. I feel this is the right time to hand over to someone else.
“I wish to record my thanks to our trust chair, Sarah Boulton, and my board and executive colleagues for their unwavering support and commitment over the last three years. I also want to thank staff for their care, compassion and commitment to our patients and to supporting each other.”
Mr Morton’s leaving date has not yet been confirmed.
The ambulance service said during his tenure it had become financially balanced and that there was a reduced variation in the quality of care for patients.