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Welcome to March’s InTouch EEAST. In this edition:

•    Reflecting back, looking forward – a welcome from Tom
•    Welcoming Kate Vaughton, our new Director of Integration 
•    #WorkWithoutFear
•    Enhancing the role of our CFRs
•    Improving our culture
•    Trust hits top gear with electric RRV trial
•    Supporting military co-responders
•    Can you outrun an ambulance?
•    Our latest performance statistics
Reflecting back, looking forward - a welcome from Tom
Tom Abell, CEO stood beside two female members of staff in front of an ambulance

I’m sure, like me, you have all been horrified by the invasion of Ukraine, and I know that the thoughts and solidarity of everyone at EEAST are with the people of Ukraine and those in our community who have friends and family who have been affected by these awful events. At times like these it is important we come together and look after one another – and as part of that we are reminding all of our people of the wellbeing support that is available through the Trust.

As an organisation we are liaising closely with NHS England, which is coordinating requests made by the Ukrainian government, and are ready to provide support when it is required. 

It is now more than six months since I joined EEAST. We’ve had to rise to so many challenges that have been thrown at us, significant increases in demand on our service and a new variant of COVID amongst others, but throughout it all I have been so impressed and humbled by the commitment and passion of all of our people for going above and beyond for our patients and our communities.

We have also worked to strengthen our partnerships across the region, for example by introducing cohorting teams at several hospitals and developing frailty network hubs and co-response partnerships. We will continue this focus on delivering improvements to the quality of patient care over the coming months.

I would like to update you on some of the areas I set as priorities when I started with the Trust:

•    We worked hard to do everything we could to look after our patients over the winter period, and through the actions we took generated approximately 2,500 additional patient-facing hours between October and January through our winter response plan.

•    We have welcomed 117 more call handlers and deployed specialist practitioners in our control rooms to strengthen our ability to respond quickly to 999 calls. We are now managing around 10% of our patients through ‘hear and treat’ and direct around 1,500 patients to other sources of help each week.

•    Further steps have been taken to support staff wellbeing, such as by introducing welfare wagons to provide free snacks and drinks to crews who are waiting with patients at our hospitals. We have also developed our wellbeing service by increasing the support available for mental health and musculoskeletal injuries.

•    We have continued to take steps to tackle the cultural issues that we know we have as an organisation, by tackling some long-term employee relations issues, strengthening our People Services team and introducing cultural ambassadors to support our journey in becoming a better place to work.

•    We have put a substantive executive team in place, with five of our new directors already in post. Hein Scheffer (Director of Strategy, Culture and Education) will join us in the near future to complete the team.

These are small steps and we have a lot more to do here at EEAST – but my belief is that by working in partnership we will continue to take these important steps forward to improve the care we can provide to our patients and communities.

Tom Abell
Chief Executive

Portrait photo of Kate Vaughton, Director of Integration


Welcoming Kate Vaughton, our new Director of Integration

Kate Vaughton has joined EEAST as Director of Integration, bringing with her experience of large-scale redesign and recovery programmes. 

She has come to the Trust from Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, where she was Chief Operating Officer for West Suffolk. Kate has spoken to InTouch EEAST about her role and priorities for the coming months.

Q: What attracted you to EEAST?

The integration agenda has gone from strength to strength over recent years, opening doors to new ways of working across organisational boundaries. Although EEAST is a vital part of every ICS in the region, we have not been on the same journey as some of our public sector partners in terms of diversifying our model. I want to support the Trust to lead the way in regional and local conversations about changing how we work together to improve outcomes for local people. 

Q: What are you most looking forward to about your new role?

The challenge and helping the Trust embrace a partnership model. The last two years have proved that empowering frontline teams to work together really can move mountains. We already have some brilliant links and relationships in place across the patch – by building on those foundations and putting the right kind of support in place, we can strengthen those connections still further.

Q: What are your priorities for your first few months in post?

To understand what is working well and identify other areas of best practice. I also want to look at what is preventing us from rolling that best practice out more consistently across the patch for the benefit of patients and staff. 

Getting out to meet our teams is also a priority, as the conversations I’ve had so far have shown there is a strong appetite for creating joint pathways with partners which will help us manage activity, avoid admissions and improve outcomes. 

Q. How could EEAST and its partners work differently together in the future to benefit patients?

We need to be part of the conversations which are happening in our integrated care systems and take a leading role in directing future strategy. The Trust is a subject matter expert in urgent and emergency care, and as such we should be confident in what we are bringing to the table.

Elsewhere, we need to focus on how we prevent admissions by working with community providers or linking patients to voluntary support networks through things such as social prescribing. We are already doing some brilliant work in that space, but there is definitely more we can explore.

Q: Do you have a message for our stakeholders and partners?

We would ask them for their support and to recognise that the key to reducing demand and keeping people safe is to work together to provide a better wrap-around offer for patients. This will make sure that only those who need specialist acute services are transported to hospital.

As one of the few providers with a regional footprint, EEAST can play a key role in supporting the work that is already taking place at a neighbourhood level by sharing best practice and highlighting inequalities where they exist.

Female paramedic in uniform. Text reads 'When I was being shouted at and called awful names by the man we had gone to help, so many people just stood by and watched' Sarah, Paramedic AACE #WorkWithoutFear


Ambulance staff who have been attacked while on duty are leading a national campaign to stamp out soaring cases of violence and aggression against emergency workers.

Over the last year, there were over 1,300 incidents of abuse of our people – an increase of 23% over five years. Incidents ranged from persistent verbal abuse to assault with weapons.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and NHS England has launched the #WorkWithoutFear campaign to highlight the profound impact of the abuse on the everyday lives of ambulance staff.

You can pledge your support by using #WorkWithoutFear on social media.

Enhancing the role of our CFRs

NHS Charities Together has awarded £508,689 to EEAST’s Charitable Funds to enhance the role of community first responders (CFRs) across our patch.

The money has come through the Ambulance Grants Programme, which was launched by NHS Charities Together in March 2021 to recognise the vital work that ambulance charities do to support the NHS.

The grant will fund falls equipment for 18 targeted CFR groups and provide initial falls training so that volunteers can provide support to patients who have fallen, enabling as many as possible to be helped at home without the need to go to hospital. It will also support 10 new roving CFR cars – all of which will be fully equipped with falls and CFR response kit – to help volunteers to attend patients in a much wider geographic area. 

More information about the grant is available on our website.
Improving our culture

Over the past six months, EEAST has been taking steps to reduce employee relations cases with 76% of legacy cases now closed and suspension time reduced by 44%. Work is now taking place to maintain this momentum by recruiting eight investigators to take on the remaining cases, while our permanent employee relations team is also being expanded.

Elsewhere, we have seen a 900% increase in colleagues raising concerns through our Freedom to Speak Up scheme. This is a positive sign, as it shows that more of our staff now feel able and willing to talk.

Work is also taking place to recruit cultural ambassadors to help ensure equality in recruitment and at disciplinary hearings as part of our drive to create an open, honest and inclusive organisation.

As part of this work, we have launched The Listening Project, which offer all staff based in Norwich the chance to talk to a trained Samaritan and get impartial support and signposting to help safeguard their wellbeing.

The initiative sees two volunteers from the Samaritans visit our Norwich HQ each week to work with staff and offer support for a range of issues, including both personal and professional concerns. Any member of staff who is based in Norwich is welcome to drop in, including call handlers, dispatchers and clinical and support staff. 

The project will initially run as a pilot until the end of May, but it is hoped that it will prove so beneficial that it will continue permanently after that date while also being rolled out across the Trust.
Black Skoda electric car


Trust hits top gear with electric vehicle trial

We are trialling three electric rapid response vehicles (RRVs) as part of the NHS’s drive towards introducing zero emissions vehicles.

EEAST successfully bid for £250,000 from NHS England to fund two electric Skoda all-wheel drive cars, an electric Vauxhall van, their conversion to medically equipped response vehicles and the necessary charging infrastructure for each of the vehicles.

They will be tested over the next 12 months before a rigorous evaluation takes place as part of an ongoing drive to decarbonise the NHS fleet while improving patient care.

More information is available on our website.

Seven men stood in front of an ambulance and a green and yellow co-response vehicle. The two men in the middle are shaking hands.


Supporting co-responders

We were incredibly grateful to the team at Smarter Metering Services Ltd and its sister company Gas Emergency UK for donating a fully operational rapid response vehicle to our co-responders based at RAF Henlow.

Co-responders are a vital part of the EEAST team and play a vital role by supporting our EEAST crews to make sure people get the help they need as quickly as possible.

The two companies have also donated a vehicle to our colleagues at Basics Essex, whose voluntary paramedics and doctors also work with our crews, as part of their ongoing drive to support charities and non-profit groups.

Graphic of an ambulance and people running and walking. Text reads 'Can you go the extra mile and outrun an ambulance'

Can you outrun an ambulance?

People from across the east of England are being encouraged to focus on their health and wellbeing while fundraising for our charity by attempting to ‘outrun an ambulance’.

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, 29 amazing fundraisers have signed up to the challenge. Between them, they have already raised more than £3,000 for EEAST’s Charity. 

Among them is 14-year-old Shay Bell from Huntingdon, who has ADHD and learning disabilities and walked 37 steps a day with his frame to raise vital funds. He completed his challenge in January and raised just under £1,000.

You can sign up for the challenge at or find out more by visiting our website. 

Ambulance parked in a parking bay with the view of the beach and trees. Text reads 'Photo courtesy of Laura Jordan'


Latest response figures 

During February, our control room recorded 105,464 contacts with the public - a reduction of 4,913 from January. We responded to 57,309 incidents face-to-face and 5,374 via hear and treat.

A full breakdown of activity during February is available here.

Don't forget, here's a date for your diary...

Our next public board meeting takes place on Wednesday 11 May via Microsoft Teams.

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East of England Ambulance Headquarters, Whiting Way, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, SG8 6EN

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