Ambulance staff at “breaking point”

East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) staff are at “breaking point” and more ambulances are needed, a leading health watchdog has found.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a routine inspection at EMAS in March, visiting six ambulance stations, six A&E departments and speaking to EMAS staff, partner organisations, A&E staff and people who use the service. The CQC also spent two days at the trust’s Emergency Operations Centre, reviewing documents and speaking with staff.

And their report, which was published recently, found that action was needed on three key standards the trust weren’t meeting - care and welfare of people who use services; staffing, and assessing and monitoring the quality of service provision.

The trust were asked to send a report to the CQC by May 24, outlining the action they will take to meet the standards.

The CQC report states: “One EMAS staff member told us “we are at breaking point”, another said “if we all worked to the rules the system would fall apart. More staff and more ambulances are needed across the board.”

However EMAS have said that their Being the Best programme already addresses the three areas highlighted.

David Farrelly, EMAS Director of Workforce, Strategy and Transformation said: “The Care Quality Commission report confirms that we respect and involve people who use our service, we work well with other providers such as hospitals and GPs, and that we assess and monitor the quality of the services we provide – this helps us to continually improve.

“EMAS and the lead commissioners have agreed a funding package that will now enable us to meet performance targets in the coming financial year. Also, for the first time in the organisation’s history, assurances have been given that the financial settlement for 2014/15 will further support improvements in performance.

“In response to needing more staff, the increase in funds from our commissioners means we are actively recruiting more people to work on our frontline so we have more resource to respond to the calls we receive – this is extra to the 140 announced in March.

“Our new management structure will provide better support for staff, as will the new and more locally-based training facilities introduced at the new hubs; and response times are already improving because of the changes we are making. This will continue as we deliver the approved plan.”