Ambulance Watch: Chief refuses to rule out interest in top 999 job

Anthony Marsh, CEO of the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Anthony Marsh, CEO of the West Midlands Ambulance Service. - Credit: Archant

The author of a damning report into the state of the East of England Ambulance Service has refused to rule out applying to be its next chief executive.

Anthony Marsh, CEO of the West Midlands Ambulance Service, said he had not given a huge amount of thought into putting his name forward to help turnaround the fortunes of the ailing NHS trust after his review into the organisation was published on Tuesday.

The chief executive was parachuted in by the Department of Health in March to conduct a governance review into the region's under-performing ambulance service after the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission, found it to be failing in the care and welfare of people that use its services.

Mr Marsh said he would continue to work with the East of England Ambulance Service for two days a week following the publication of his findings to help improve performance and response times to patients.

'The trust have four weeks to provide their formal action plan to the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA), during which I will work with the trust to bring about a robust action plan for the staff and patients. The work will continue during the next four weeks and will continue going forward.

'An advert is going to be placed imminently and the trust will go through a process. It is not something I have given a huge amount of thought to and it is not something I have ruled out,' he said.

Mr Marsh's report, which included 25 recommendations, criticised the ambulance trust board and managers for not listening to frontline staff and said 'there is a feeling that the trust has made a relatively simple job too difficult.'

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He added: 'The trust has drawn together an action plan but this appears inadequate to sufficiently address the situation and provide assurance to the CQC that the improvements are achievable and meaningful.'

Andrew Morgan, former chief executive of NHS Norfolk, became interim chief executive of the ambulance trust in December following the retirement of Hayden Newton.

The trust began advertising the £145,000 a year post in the New Year, but decided to give Mr Morgan extra time to bring in his turnaround plan, which was published in April.

Mr Morgan said that his organisation was already doing a lot of what Mr Marsh had recommended, including beginning a recruitment drive to hire 350 extra front-line staff and to put 25 more double staffed ambulances on the region's roads.

The interim chief executive yesterday said the governance review was 'rightly critical of the trust'. He added that he had decided to launch his turnaround plan before the publication of Mr Marsh's report because he was keen to get on with delivering an improved service for patients across the East.

'The review matches what I put in the turnaround plan in April. Things are improving, but there is much more to be done,' he said.