Criticism from the Health and Social Care Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, sees the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) assure patients they are making improvements and will be investing in more staff and vehicles.

In an interview with The Gazette, Mr Hunt is said to have admitted that the service had struggled and that some of the stories of long ambulance waits were “totally unacceptable”.

A spokesman for the EEAST told The Gazette “there have been times when we have not delivered the standard we expect over the winter period.” They went on to say that they are making a number of changes, improving the way they respond to surges in demand as well as working with colleagues in hospitals so that crews quickly get back on the road after a blue light transfer to hospital.

The spokesman said “We have also agreed with our commissioners a significant increase in funding which we will be investing in more staff and vehicles. As a system we are working to improve how we respond to emergency calls in the community.”

It comes after the region’s NHS came under intense pressure between mid-December and early January, with ambulances queuing outside A&E departments and patients reporting they were being treated in corridors. A whistleblower from the region’s ambulance trust has claimed at least 40 patients died or were harmed due to delays over Christmas and New Year.  (source EADT)

Stacey Anderson, GCILEx in the Clinical Negligence team at Thompson Smith and Puxon, said “It is pleasing to see acknowledgment that improvements in the ambulance service are needed and that EEAST will be investing in more staff and vehicles. Delays getting to hospital can sometimes prove critical to patient care and it is therefore very important that these problems are addressed to ensure patient safety is maintained.”

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