Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Fight for Positive Change in Ambulance Trust Culture Needs You


In a country of beleaguered ambulance Trusts facing staffing shortages, pay freezes and dwindling resources, things are looking bleak right now for employees and the public alike.

But there is a glimmer of hope.

After a desperate few years, East of England Ambulance Service has been experiencing the beginnings of a positive shift in culture and attitude. A change which, if successful, could show the way for other Trusts and prove to be the template for the much needed shot in the arm ambulance services nationwide need. Among other things, this grassroots initiative led to the production of the powerful and incisive video below about pressure and late finishes and accompanying petition, which solicited this encouraging response from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives. But it's an initiative that needs your support, wherever you are in the country.


Although this blog's recent focus has been on London Ambulance Service's institutionalised abuse of its workforce - a conclusion borne out by the recently published, damning independent investigation into bullying and harassment - LAS's current culture echoes that of EEAS' in the past. With the recently announced departure of LAS Director of Operations, Jason Killens, it seems every bit as plausible that London staff could hope for a positive shift in their fortunes in the future. It just takes the right kind of bold and positive influence and leadership.

The kind which Dr Anthony Marsh is providing for EEAS in his role as Chief Executive.

During his tenure, Dr Marsh has proven to have an ear for staff and public concern, supporting moves to address late finishes, stopping the practise of fudging response time figures through the use of single-manned rapid response vehicles where a double-staffed ambulance is more appropriate. He has encouraged increased transparency and communication. He has backed a push to support wage increases for low paid Trust staff. He has started to build a belief that the workforce is valued. In his Clinical Governance Report of 2013. he challenged the kind of negative culture which brought EEAS to its knees in the past and has more recently seen LAS fall from grace. But there is much more which still needs to be addressed - his work is far from done.

Sadly, the remaining proponents of EEAS' former, negative culture are understandably not happy with the threat Anthony Marsh poses to the status quo and are making moves to oust him, already preparing his replacement in the wings. Dr Marsh's departure would be a regressive move for the Trust and the public it serves. It would endanger any hope of continued positive change and threatens to see a return to the blinkered and damaging practises of old.

If ambulance Trusts around the country are to find a way to evolve past the archaic 'command & control' management structure which has proven to grind staff into the ground, if they are to mature into a public service which supports its staff and delivers the world class service the country expects, then we need to stand with progressive leaders like Dr Anthony Marsh, who is also chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives.

It is for these reasons that East of England staff have been running a petition to the Secretary of State for Health asking for support to keep Dr Marsh in their Ambulance Trust. Hundreds of staff have signed the petition, which says, ‘We believe that without Dr Marsh things will again quickly start to unravel in our Ambulance Trust; there are already discussions to remove some of the supportive changes we have seen, and this is severely impacting morale. We feel we need to petition you [Jeremy Hunt], as we do not believe our Board is acting in our best interests.’

Frontline staff are traveling to Parliament on 20th July (next Monday) with the support of former Minister of State for Care and Support Norman Lamb and other MPs. I will be travelling with the group and hope that they will be listened to and supported by MPs and the Secretary of State for Health. I’ll post details of our mission both on this blog and in other social media.

They, and I, would be most grateful for your support and help. This could be a tipping point for ambulance culture nationwide.

Please follow this link to sign the petition.

6 comments:

  1. Anthony Marsh has made an impact, that's for sure. I can't be the only one, however, looking forward to his departure. His arrival to EEAST has caused a paradigm shift in management attitudes, and all of a sudden targets matter more than patients, and disciplinary proceedings take precedence over staff support. Meanwhile, UNISON have jumped into bed with him.

    I can't wait for change.

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    1. Without unison and Anthony marsh we wouldn't have made any movement towards supporting staff, I think the petition makes it clear there's a lot more to do, and I'm not surprised with the uncertainy of the CEO recruitment that managers are becoming more militant - wonder if storey will be back??! We can't afford to lose Anthony marsh, if we do bet they stop the sap recruitment, bring back in hundreds of band 3s, remove our pay band agreement. Years ago unison was in bed with management - what did they do about rota redesign?! Don't think you can accuse them of that now - I signed the petition and most people on the road in my area have as well.

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  2. I worked in Essex years ago when Dr Marsh was our Chief and he hasn't changed. He gave us meal breaks then and is still supportive of staff. If he goes before the culture change is embedded, we’ll see a return to command and control. The vultures are already circling and the past month it seems managers are going back to those behaviours. Well done UNISON (some of them) for telling us whats going on and trying to keep us on the right track. I signed the petition and so have lots of Essex staff - bet they be lots of managers wanting to see the back of Dr Marsh, so they rebuild their empires!!!

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  3. Unison and Anthony brought in pay band changes that are envied by other trusts. I can see why there's some that want to destroy that. Funny how most managers appear to want Anthony marsh gone. Good on unison for standing up and supporting someone battling to help us folk in green.

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  4. All that glitters is not GOLD. honorary Doctorate in 2012 for his work in Emergency preparedness, has applied twice for another Metropolitan Trust in the last few years, ties with East of England Ambulance and West Midlands Ambulance and AACE, you can't juggle all that and give the focus needed to ensure a first class service 24/7 something gives

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  5. So despite lots of publicity and encouragement for people to sign the petition, about 700 people did so.
    We don't know if these people actually worked for the Trust or are random people who decided to vote.
    EEAST has 4000 staff so that works out at about 17.5% of the workforce.

    What a massive ringing endorsement.

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