‘Risk summit’ arranged over ambulance waits in West Norfolk
Urgent talks are to be held to discuss concerns over performance by the embattled ambulance service covering West Norfolk.
Several MPs have raised concerns over delayed responses to emergency calls by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST), which some fear may have contributed to up to 20 deaths across the region.
Now, a Government minister has said a “risk summit” is to take place to examine the issue, after a letter was sent to the government by North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb.
During a Commons debate on Monday evening, health minister Stephen Barclay said he had told officials to share Mr Lamb’s letter with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
He added: “I discussed these concerning allegations directly with the chief executive of NHS England and the chief executive of NHS Improvement this morning, and asked them to confirm to me the actions they will be taking.
“They have subsequently confirmed they will be holding a joint risk summit regarding the trust in the next week. The CQC will be in attendance.”
However, EEAST has claimed it has not received any complaints from patients or their families, nor any concerns through its own interal channels.
It has also disputed Mr Barclay’s comment about a risk summit, saying: “We asked for an independent review last week and welcome the decision from our regulators.
“It is important we examine our performance during the festive period against our plans, both internally and with our system partners.”
MPs have also been told that the trust is itself investigating serious cases.
However, Mr Barclay supported Mr Lamb’s call for staff to feel able to speak out if they believed patient safety was being put at risk.
Both Mr Lamb and the Labour MP Clive Lewis have said they were informed of the scale of the problems within the service by whistleblowers.
Mr Lamb added: “The last thing we want is for pressure to be put on staff to make them feel that they are unable to speak out about such concerns.”
Meanwhile, Healthwatch Norfolk, which represents patients, has asked for the public to contact them with their recent experiences of using the ambulance service, whether good or bad.
Feedback can be left by visiting www.healthwatchnorfolk.co.uk/services or phoning 01953 856029.