The East of England has some of the worst ambulance response times in the country, especially in rural areas like large parts of Suffolk Coastal.
I have been leading the campaign to improve response times and get a better deal for patients. After much hard work the service has undergone a lot of positive change over the last few years and long ambulance delays are becoming increasingly rare. I will continue to press the case to make sure the service continues to improve.
Therese has welcomed the CQC inspection report which reinforces the need for improvements in ambulance response times for patients in rural areas after the East of England Ambulance Service was given a 'Requires Improvement' rating by the Care Quality Commission. She intends to organise a meeting with the CQC for Eastern MPs to find out more about the inspection.
This is the first time that the CQC has inspected the Ambulance Service and in the categories of safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership they were given a Requires Improvement rating, with the only exception being care which was rated Outstanding.
Therese said: "While the Ambulance Service were expecting this outcome at this stage of their journey it is still disappointing to see. Progress has been made in turning things around but it is nowhere near quick enough. Patients in rural Suffolk are still not getting the service they need. That said, it is right to recognise that when people who come into contact with the Ambulance Service they would usually agree that the care they receive is outstanding.
"I have a meeting lined up with the Secretary of State for Health when I plan to go into detail about the problems we face in our area. I am also writing to the Chief Executives of those hospitals with the worst handover times which is poor for patient care and reduces the time that ambulances are available to help others who need a 999 response. I am now planning to meet the CQC inspectors so I and other Eastern MPs can be better equipped when scrutinising the service in the future."
Therese organised a meeting in Parliament today for Eastern MPs to hear from the Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, Rob Morton. He was joined by Chairman, Sarah Boulton and Director of Nursing and Clinical Quality, Sandy Brown. The meeting is the latest in a series of updates on the Turnaround Plan to improve response times and was the third opportunity for MPs to grill the new Chief Executive on progress made.
Therese said, "We heard about a significant increase in demand and we have asked for more data on this. Unfortunately, there are still major problems on handovers at hospitals despite their efforts. I will be writing to the Chief Executives of the worst performing hospitals - Watford, Colchester and the N&N - to challenge them. I will also be contacting the NHS England Chief Executive.
"Problems with response times in rural areas like East Suffolk remain and I am particularly concerned about response times for people suffering strokes. I will keep organising these meetings until the full turnaround plan is implemented to the benefit of patients."
Therese organised a meeting for Eastern MPs to hear from the new Chief Executive of the East of England AmbulanceService, Rob Morton, in Parliament today. He was joined by Chairman, Sarah Boulton and Director of Nursing and Clinical Quality, Sandy Brown.
The meeting is the latest in a series of updates on the Turnaround Plan to improve response times, put in place by Interim Chief Executive Anthony Marsh and the first opportunity for MPs to grill the new Chief Executive on progress made.
Therese said: "I am determined to continue to keep a laser like focus on the Ambulance Service to ensure the full turnaround plan is implemented. The service has gone through significant change in the last 18 months, recruiting more staff and investing in more double staffed ambulances."
Therese added: "There are still some issues with handover times at hospitals, including the Norfolk & Norwich but I am pleased that the new Chief Executive is engaging directly with the Chief Executives of those hospitals to address the issue. There is also a recognition that there is still a lot of work to do to improve staff morale which is being taken seriously."
"One of my main areas of focus is to ensure that patients suffering a stroke get to hospital within 60 minutes to maximise their ability to recover and I pressed the case with the Chief Executive. He has promised to send me more information on how they are performing."
Therese organised the last meeting of this Parliament with the Chief Executive and Chairman of the East of England AmbulanceService, Anthony Marsh and Sarah Boulton, to discuss on progress with the turnaround plan to improve rural response times at a meeting in Parliament last night.
Therese said: "Steady progress continues but I am pushing hard on the local focus, not just the regional statistics. 244 new ambulances have been delivered to replace old ones and by the end of this month there will be no ambulances older than 5 years on the frontline. There are reasons to be cheerful but the board has a clear message that we are impatient for all the changes to be delivered."
Therese added: "Despite a significant recruitment drive of over 400 student paramedics there is still a shortage of paramedics applying from East Suffolk so please consider the student paramedic programme, which could lead to a very fulfilling career."
The Chief Executive and Chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service, Anthony Marsh and Sarah Boulton, briefed East ofEngland MPs on progress of the turnaround plan to improve rural response times and the resilience of the service in Parliament today. The meeting was organised by Therese.
Therese said: "We were last updated in July so it was a good opportunity to scrutinise the progress made since then. When I was first alerted to poor response times in 2011, the Ambulance Service was hitting its regional targets which masked the poor rural response times and dysfunctional service. One of the most important aspects of the turnaround so far is that the long ambulance delays are becoming rarer and rarer."
"Under the strong leadership of Dr Anthony Marsh the service has already recruited over 400 new student paramedics this year rising to over 500 by April 2015. University Campus Suffolk has been accredited to train paramedics and will start its first courses in March 2015. Alongside the extra frontline staff has been the investment in double staffed ambulances. By March there will be no ambulances more than 5 years old, increasing reliability and strengthening capacity."
Therese added: "There are still concerns in relation to handover delays at some hospitals including the Norfolk and Norwich as well as the robustness of triage through the 111– where the ambulance service have offered paramedics to assist. I will be keeping a careful eye on this."
"Dr Marsh has said that the full turnaround of the service is another year away but we can see that real progress is already being made. My colleagues and I will continue to press the case for a better service to ensure East of England patients get the service they deserve."
Following the meeting with the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service hosted byTherese in July, the service have confirmed the number of ambulances deployed and new paramedics employed in Suffolk.
Therese said: "Since Dr Anthony Marsh joined the trust and embarked on his turnaround plan, 18 new ambulances have been deployed in Suffolk and 52 new student paramedics have been recruited. They have also appointed an additional 9 qualified paramedics."
Therese added: "It is very welcome news for patients across Suffolk that more staff and more ambulances are now out on the front line. The full turnaround won't happen for another 18 months but the Chief Executive has promised monthly updates by County so I will continue to press the case for a better service here in Suffolk."
Therese today hosted a meeting with the Chief Executive and the new Interim Chairman of the East of England Ambulance Service, Anthony Marsh and Sarah Boulton to update MPs on the progress of the turnaround plan to improve rural response times and the resilience of the service.
Therese said: "We were last updated in February so it was useful to find out the progress being made. The Trust is now under the strong leadership of Dr Marsh who step by step is turning around performance. He has already recruited over 300 student paramedics and is aiming for more than 400 by September, 3 months ahead of schedule. I was particularly pleased to learn that more than half of those student paramedics who had previously been recruited but were left with incomplete training have now completed that training. So more staff are out on the front line which is great news for patients right across East Anglia."
Therese added: "I was also pleased to hear that Dr Marsh has deployed 147 brand new ambulances on the region's streets bringing the average age of the fleet down to 7 years. 120 more are on order and by March that average age will reduce to 5 years. Previously around 15% of ambulances would be off the road at any one time because of breakdowns."
"Dr Marsh recognises that the full turnaround of the service won't happen for another 18 months as more paramedics are recruited and deployed but we can already see that progress is being made and staff morale has improved. My colleagues and I will continue to press the case for a better service and together we will make sure East of England patients get the service they deserve".
The new Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, Dr Anthony Marsh, was in Parliament today to brief East ofEngland MPs on the steps he is taking to turnaround the performance of the service.
Speaking after the meeting Therese said: "I am impressed by the strong leadership Dr Marsh is already showing and he has made significant changes to the action plan. He clearly stated that with so many priorities being pursued under the old plan that there was a lack of clarity for all on achieving the better service we all want. We heard that he will focus on a few key actions of the recruitment of 400 new paramedics, accelerating the ambulance replacement programme, maximising clinical staff on the frontline and reducing overheads to invest in more paramedics. The outcome will be that instead of focusing all resources on a few areas in an attempt to hit national targets, patients will not be left waiting so long for ambulances as they have been."
Therese added: "Dr Marsh assured us today that there will be 27 more ambulances out on the road by the end of March and up to 50 more next year. He has also committed to giving MPs quarterly updates on how many paramedics he has recruited and how many ambulances he has deployed in each County".
"The turnaround of the service is taking longer than any of us would have liked but Dr Marsh is already making an impact, going out to see his team, improving staff morale and has a relentless focus on improving the service for patients. The performance of the service has not gone out of the spotlight of the Department of Health or NHS England. I have been working for a long time to ensure the service improves and will continue to keep up the pressure".
The new Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service, Dr Anthony Marsh, will have an early opportunity to brief East of England MPswhen he visits Parliament next month.
The regional meeting hosted by Health Minister, Earl Howe, will take place on the 11th February.
Therese who has been vocal in the campaign for a better Ambulance Service said: "Anthony Marsh will have been in place for 6 weeks when we meet in early February so it is an ideal time for him to give us a candid view on the challenges still facing the service".
Therese added: "I have spoken to Dr Marsh on several occasions since his appointment and I look forward to hearing from him in more detail about how performance times can be turned around and the recruitment of more paramedics crucial for a better service in Suffolk".
Therese has today welcomed the appointed of Dr Anthony Marsh as the new Chief Executive of the East of England Ambulance Service.
It was Dr Marsh that conducted the report into the failings of the Trust and made recommendations for changes to improve response times for patients.
Reacting to the news Therese said: "I am delighted that Dr Marsh has been appointed as the new Chief Executive. He has a proven track record of strong leadership and I am pleased he has an opportunity to implement the recommendations that he previously made including the recruitment of many more paramedics. I am sure his appointment will be a key catalyst in turning around performance."
Dr Marsh will be here 4 days a week as he also continues to lead the successful West Midlands Ambulance Service.