East of England Ambulance Service shocking: MP Walker

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An MP has described the performance of the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust (EEAST) as "shocking".

Speaking in the Commons, Broxbourne Conservative MP Charles Walker said he had no confidence in those running it.

He called for an urgent debate following union concerns that budget cuts were putting patients at risk.

An EEAST spokesman said complaints about "supposed cuts" were disappointing when the trust was actually avoiding any.

He added it was not making front-line staff redundant or closing ambulance stations "despite being required to save £50m over the next five years".

Three-hour wait

"We are recruiting more staff as well as working on improving response times and we are doing this by back office savings, introducing smarter working rotas and directing patients who don't need an ambulance response to more suitable treatment so that we are more available to the people whose lives depend on us."

Mr Walker's comments come in the wake of news that a Norfolk man who had a heart attack on Sunday had to wait three hours for an ambulance to arrive.

The service admitted it was "not acceptable" and a spokesman added: "This incident is of significant concern to the trust and has been raised for a thorough investigation."

Earlier this month the chief executive of the trust, Hayden Newton, announced his forthcoming retirement just days after GMB union members wrote to the chair of the trust expressing no confidence in him.

The union Unison has also been critical, claiming the scaling down of resources would put patients at risk.

Both unions have expressed anger over cuts and rota changes as part of the trust's plans to save £50m over five years.

'Across the territory'

Addressing the speaker of the house and former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, Mr Walker said concerns needed to be addressed urgently.

Mr Lansley said: "The East of England Ambulance Service Trust, like other ambulance trusts across this country, have for the first time, all of them, met all of their category A response times.

"But it is very important that they continue to do so right across the territory and not just on an aggregate basis.

"That's something I know is important for colleagues to raise and he may have an opportunity to do so... through an adjournment debate."

The East of England Ambulance NHS Trust serves Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

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