Bedfordshire ambulance service comes out of special measures

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Major milestone for EEAST says trust boss

Staff at the East of England Ambulance Service are celebrating after coming out of special measures.

The trust learned today (Tuesday) that it had been removed from the National Recovery Support programme by NHS England, three years after being placed in special measures by the care watchdog the CQC.

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The trust had been placed in the category in 2020, following concerns about culture, leadership and governance.

Tom Abell, Chief Executive of EEASTTom Abell, Chief Executive of EEAST
Tom Abell, Chief Executive of EEAST

The latest CQC report, published in July 2022, showed significant improvements on long-standing cultural issues. The report recognised the trust’s efforts to improve leadership, culture, and safety for staff.

Since February 2023, the CQC has also lifted four conditions on EEAST’s license. There are three remaining which it is hoped will be lifted soon.

The National Recovery Support Programme run by NHS England works with the CQC and is for challenged providers and systems.

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Since 2023 the CQC has recognised that the trust has expanded its safeguarding team and strengthened its safeguarding policies and HR processes. An improvement in the way allegations are handled was also recognised. This happened after processes were strengthened and standardised. Training has also been provided for managers investigating allegations. This improves the quality of decision-making and monitoring of any themes and reduces the risk of similar cases in the future.

The trust has also been recognised for its work in improving the visibility of the Freedom to Speak Up Guardian, making it easier for people to give feedback and raise concerns.

NHS England has now confirmed EEAST will leave the Recovery Support Programme with immediate effect.

Tom Abell, Chief Executive, said: “This is a major milestone for EEAST, and it’s all down to the hard work and commitment of our people. We have made much progress since I joined the trust over two years ago. When I joined, I made clear it would take time to tackle longstanding cultural and organisational issues.

“Although we have made good progress, we know there is still work to do to provide consistently excellent service to our communities.”