May’s InTouch EEAST

Content originally from East of England Ambulance Service

Welcome to May’s InTouch EEAST. In this edition…

•    The importance of strong partnerships – a welcome from Tom
•    The NHS Staff Survey
•    Extra steps to protect mental health 
•    Cementing our commitment to eliminating discrimination
•    Flower Show garden arrives in Chelmsford
•    Could you help save lives by becoming a CFR?
•    Top diversity award for disability network
•    Outrun an ambulance – during national walking month

The importance of strong partnerships –
a welcome from Tom
Ambulance service staff meet MP Liz Truss
As you may be aware, we had an unannounced visit from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in April, with the inspectors returning earlier this month to assess us in the ‘well-led’ domain. I was proud that the inspectors noted our people consistently go ‘above and beyond’ and show exceptional care for patients, despite the considerable pressure our service continues to face. As always, my thanks go to all of our staff for their continued hard work and dedication. It’ll be some time until we receive the CQC’s draft report, but in the meantime we are working through the initial feedback the inspectors provided and taking action in response where necessary.

Our thoughts remain with the people of Ukraine, as well as all those living around the world who have been affected by the conflict. Earlier this spring, we offered four of our decommissioned ambulances to Ukraine as part of a wider donation being sent from the NHS, and continue to liaise closely with NHS England to see whether we can provide any further support. Earlier this month we welcomed Liz Truss MP to Swaffham to show her one of the ambulances we are donating (pictured) and explain more about the great work carried out by our teams. 
Alex Burghart MP with EEAST Chief Executive Tom Abell
In addition, I have also met with several other MPs to discuss the challenges we are facing and their impact on response times. This includes Anna Firth, Southend’s newest MP, and Brentwood MP Alex Burghart, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills (pictured), to reflect on what more we can do to encourage young people to explore alternative routes into a fulfilling career with the NHS. This theme continued when I visited a careers fair organised by James Cartlidge MP to help get people back into jobs. 

I was pleased to be given the opportunity to meet some of our MPs and hope to introduce myself to more stakeholders in the coming months. I firmly believe that developing close working relationships with a variety of partners from across the region is vital to the future success of EEAST. Only by working together can we find new ways to integrate services, ensure our sustainability and provide even better care for local people. 

Tom Abell
Chief Executive
A graphic showing a summary of EEAST's staff survey results The NHS Staff Survey

The results of the 2021 NHS Staff Survey have been published and highlight some important improvements for EEAST, as well as areas where there is still work to do. 

Nearly half (48%) of EEAST staff took the time to complete the survey, which was the same response as 2020. They told us:  

•    Fewer of them are experiencing bullying from managers or feeling under pressure to come into work when they are unwell.

•    More feel able to report unsafe clinical practice. This indicates that we are creating a culture which is becoming more open and can learn from mistakes when they happen. This sense of increased safety is also reflected in the fact that fewer people experienced violence from patients.

Areas highlighted for improvement include the number of staff who would recommend the Trust as a place to work. We also scored poorly for staff feeling relationships are under strain and people’s ability to access training. 

Progress has been made in a number of areas since the survey took place in November, while further action will take place over the coming months to help make the Trust a better place to work for everyone.

The full results are available here.

Extra steps to protect mental health

We have signed up to the Blue Light Mental Health at Work Commitment to publicly show our support for safeguarding the mental health and wellbeing of our staff and volunteers.

The commitment brings together all emergency services throughout the UK and is a statement of intent, declaring that mental health at work is a strategic priority for all. It sets six standards, which have been put together by Mind and include prioritising mental health in the workplace, providing tools and support and promoting an open culture around mental health.

To help meet the commitment, EEAST is tripling the size of its Wellbeing Team and will shortly launch a new Wellbeing Network, which will give staff and volunteers the chance to have their say and help steer the programme.

Tom Abell, Chief Executive, said: “We are currently experiencing some of the most significant and sustained pressures across urgent and emergency care services in recent years. This is placing immense pressure on our people which reinforces the need to better support them when they experience ill health, or are at risk of doing so.”

Cementing our commitment to eliminating discrimination

EEAST has become the first NHS Trust to sign up to Unison’s new Anti-Racism Charter which aims to help tackle racism in the public sector.

The charter commits organisations and their leaders to a raft of pledges designed to prevent all forms of conscious or unconscious racial bias. This includes championing a racially diverse workforce, recognising the impact of racism on staff wellbeing and regularly reviewing its strategies to improve racial equality, diversity and inclusion so that the organisation reflects the communities it serves.

The charter also states that organisations should have a clear and visible anti-racism programme in place, while unconscious bias training should be provided for all staff and robust equality training for managers.

Paramedic and Unison EEAST Chair Glenn Carrington said: “A fairer workplace is a better workplace so by actively combatting discrimination, EEAST will be ensuring a better ambulance service for people across the east of England.”
Flower Show garden arrives in Chelmsford

A garden designed and featured at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show has been gifted to Chelmsford Ambulance Station as a space for staff to enjoy.

Based around the title ‘60o East – A Garden Between Continents’, the garden was donated and redesigned to fit the space at the station by local garden design and landscape company Cube 1994 Ltd. Work on the garden is now nearing completion thanks to the dedication of Paramedic Angela Andersen, who has been supported by the Chelmsford management team. It will officially open later in the summer.

Creating tranquil outdoor spaces where staff and volunteers can relax has been a focus for the East of England Ambulance Service Charity over recent months, with havens created at stations in Longwater and Basildon. In addition, more than 120 benches have been distributed across 80 Trust sites to encourage staff to spend time outdoors and provide an alternative space for breaks.

For more information about EEAST’s Charity or to donate, click here.

 Could you help save lives by becoming a CFR?
A recruitment roadshow has taken place to attract more community first responders (CFRs) to help our crews to save lives.

Andrew Barlow, Community Response Manager in Norfolk and Waveney, toured various locations around north Norfolk during April to explain more about the role and encourage new applicants.

CFRs are volunteers who work alongside the ambulance service and rapidly respond to situations within their local community during the critical first few minutes following a 999 call. They receive training from EEAST to deal with life-threatening situations ranging from cardiac arrests, chest pains and strokes to fits, falls, breathing difficulties and severe diabetic attacks.

Andrew said: “CFRs provide a valuable service within their local communities, ensuring that patients receive the care they need as quickly as possible. 

“In certain situations, a CFR being on scene first can mean the difference between life and death and the recruitment roadshow will hopefully both increase awareness of the vital role CFRs play in their community and increase our number of volunteers.”

Anyone who is interested in finding out more about volunteering with EEAST can find out more by clicking here.

Top diversity award for disability network
The National Ambulance Disability Network, which is hosted at EEAST, has picked up an award for the Diversity Network of the Year.

The network received the award at a virtual ceremony organised by Work Skills UK, an independent charity and partnership between employers, education and governments. 

Dawn Whelan (pictured), Business and Partnerships Lead at EEAST, founded the network in October 2020 with Tom Heywood from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service to improve the support available to staff with disabilities. She explained more about the reasons for setting up the group in a video filmed at EEAST, which is available here. 

“I am absolutely delighted that the network has received this award and it is recognition of the hard work of everyone involved,” said Dawn, who is network chair. “We are now in a position to influence policy not only in the ambulance sector but right across the NHS.

“It’s really empowering for people to be able to speak up and speak out on the challenges they face and be confident in seeking support that they require.”

 Outrun an ambulance – during national walking month 
Generous supporters from across the east of England have raised nearly £3,250 for our charity by proving they can ‘outrun an ambulance’ – and we’re inviting others to join them during national walking month. 

The virtual challenge invites people to conquer the mileage an ambulance covers on an average shift by running, walking, swimming, cycling or riding anything that is self-propelled. All ages and abilities are welcome to take part, with participants able to choose their distance based on the mileage clocked-up by crews during the course of a typical shift. 

So far, our amazing fundraisers have raised £3,235 for EEAST’s Charity, which will be used to enhance the facilities and wellbeing support available to our staff.

Anyone who would like to join them and can find out more by visiting our website. Alternatively, you can donate on our JustGiving page.