A damning Care Quality Commission report released today recommends that the East of England Ambulance Service Trust be placed in special measures.
It uncovered a litany of complaints against senior leadership, accusing Trust managers of fostering bullying and abuse.
UNISON Eastern regional organiser Sam Older said: “UNISON has been consistently raising issues around the culture at EEAST for years and we’ve been working hard with the Trust to resolve them.
“We’ve been pushing for greater action on governance and employee relations and hope that this CQC report will hammer home the message that things still need to get better.
“EEAST must make clear it values and supports its staff, not only for the sake of the the thousands of ambulance workers in the East of England who have given their all during lockdown, but for the millions across the region who rely on a fully funded, fully staffed ambulance service.”
CQC has told the Trust it must make several improvements, including:
- Implementing effective systems to identify and assess safeguarding issues, and monitor staff Disclosure and Barring Service renewals,
- Reviewing policies to deal with allegations made against staff,
- Undertaking adequate pre-employment checks,
- Ensuring the safety and effectiveness of subcontracted private ambulance services and their staff,
- Actioning the findings of its review into inappropriate behaviours and implementing effective processes to manage concerns, grievances and disciplinaries,
- Ensuring all required oversight and governance arrangements are in place,
- Addressing long-standing concerns regarding bullying and harassment within the organisation.
England’s chief inspector of hospitals Ted Baker said: “Some leaders adopted a combative approach which deterred staff from speaking out, including on serious issues such as safeguarding and abuse. This fuelled a negative culture, where bullying was normalised, and put patient and staff safety at risk.
“I have recommended that the Trust enters special measures, so that it can receive the support it needs. NHS E/I has already begun to put some of this support in place to help the trust make the necessary improvements.”
EEAS chair Nicola Scrivings said: “Today’s report calls out where we need to improve and we will now do everything possible, as fast as possible, to make the improvements required.”