Ambulance chief announces change in strategy after talks with MPs

Ambulance on a road

Chief executive Tom Abell today confirmed the Trust would be moving towards a 'county-based' model of delivery - Credit: Simon Parker

Emergency ambulance services will be run on county boundaries rather than a regional system following a meeting with MPs over failures to meet 999 call-out times.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) confirmed the trust would be moving towards a 'county-based' model of delivery following the talks at Westminster.

Chief executive Tom Abell said: "I was pleased to be able to discuss the issues and challenges facing our ambulance service and the wider NHS with a number of MPs from across the region as part of my regular dialogue with them.

Dr Therese Coffey meeting with EEAST boss Tom Abell in February 2022.

Dr Therese Coffey meeting with EEAST boss Tom Abell in February 2022. - Credit: OFFICE OF THERESE COFFEY

"We had a full and frank discussion about the demands facing our paramedics and the improvements we are making at EEAST with our hospital colleagues to address these and improve care for our patients."

MP for Suffolk Coastal, Thérèse Coffey, set up the discussion after it was revealed ambulance wait times in the East of England were over double the national target.

The data, which was obtained from the NHS' Ambulance Quality Indicators, revealed patients suffering from Category 2 emergencies - which include heart attacks, strokes and sepsis - faced an average wait of 49 minutes and 50 seconds for an EEAST ambulance.

The national target currently stands at 18 minutes.

Dr Coffey described the figures as "shockingly bad".

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“In the past I have called for the East of England Ambulance Service to be broken up - and I’m glad this has been reflected on," she said after today's meeting.

Thérèse Coffey

Thérèse Coffey labelled the decision a "massive step forward". - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

"The chief executive told us today that they are moving to a county-based model or at least in line with the new integrated care service areas. This is a massive step forward but we need to get on with it for the benefit of patients.

“Historically we have seen resources concentrated in particular areas of the region to make the overall statistics look better but often at the expense of more rural communities. A county-based model will ensure greater transparency and will mean resources are spread more fairly, crucial for Suffolk residents.

“The reality is that our ambulance service has been under-performing for many years - and although we have seen many false dawns, I’m hopeful that this new way of working will have a real impact.”