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'Our ambulance have 400,000 miles on the clock' - special measures for scandal-hit Ambulance Trust

Delayed ambulances and not answering 999 calls quick enough - just two of the reasons a scandal-hit ambulance trust has been put into special measures.

A damning report into the South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb) - which covers Sussex, Surrey and North-East Hampshire - also found other serious concerns, including:

- Response times not meeting national targets.

- Patients giving up on calls for help, especially on weekends.

- Not enough staff, impacting on performance and fatigue.

- A culture of harassment and bullying of staff.

So what now for the troubled trust?

Andy Dickenson speaks to Ben Williams, Geraint Davies, acting chief executive of Secamb, Alan Thorne of the Care Quality Commission, David Liley of Healthwatch, and Nigel Sweet from Unison.

Ambulance thanks public and staff for support during busy festive period

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust would like to thank the public for their support and praise the efforts of its staff during a busy Christmas and New Year.

During the last two weeks of the year, Emergency Operations Centre staff received more than 50,000 999 calls across Kent, Surrey and Sussex – an average of approximately 3,000 calls every day.

SECAmb would also like to praise the efforts and commitment of its volunteers aswell Credit: SECamb

The Trust’s NHS 111 centre staff have also had an extremely busy end to the year with call volume high with Christmas Day and Boxing Day being followed by a weekend.

Ambulance crews out on the road worked flat out to reach and treat those in most need as quickly as possible, while Patient Transport Service teams have also been at full stretch to get patients to appointments and back home following discharge from hospital.

This time of year and New Year’s Eve in particular is always incredibly busy for the ambulance service and we were expecting no difference this year. We plan ahead to best meet this demand but it is the dedication of all our staff which ensure that we respond to those in most need quickly and safely.

“Christmas and New Year is always going to be a challenging time but every year everyone pulls together and I’m always very proud to see this commitment. It is also a hard time of year for families of emergency workers who often get to spend very little time with anyone who works in such a profession."

– SECAmb Chief Executive Paul Sutton


Ambulance service to reduce fuel costs

The dynamic control will mean a vehicle's speed is restricted when it's not on an emergency. The fleet covers around 17 million miles across Surrey and Sussex each year. It's using a new system which limits a vehicle to sixty two miles an hour.

South East Coast Ambulance Service Credit: ITV News Meridian

"The decision to install this system on our operational vehicles will significantly reduce their fuel consumption and save public money.

In addition, given the huge number of miles our vehicles cover, we know we have a duty to take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.

This move is just one way which we can, to an extent, limit our impact as an organisation on the environment at the same time as making savings, which can be reinvested into patient care."

– Justin Wand - Head of Fleet