Overview from our Chief Executive

We had to rise to so many challenges that have been thrown at us over the past year, huge service demands, significant handover delays, different variants of COVID-19 amongst others but throughout I have been consistently impressed and humbled at the commitment and passion shown by all our colleagues for going above and beyond for our patients and our communities.

Much of the detail of what I refer to in this overview is included in the performance report section.

Looking after our patients

Clearly, there was much to do to make our service sustainable over the past year, as we faced demand for ambulances and handover to hospital challenges across the region and by developing strong networks and partnerships, we made some important steps forward.

After an intensive planning process, I am pleased to say that our winter response plan generated approximately 2,500 additional patient facing hours per week dedicated to patient care, between October 2021 and January 2022. I thank all colleagues for taking on additional shifts and being flexible particularly over the festive period. It really did make a difference to the care we were able to provide.

Related to this we ran an end of shift trial to help colleagues get home on time, which had shown a positive impact for our colleagues, this will be an area for further development.

We welcomed 117 more call handlers to the Trust and piloted the use of specialist practitioners in our control centres which helped to strengthen our ability to respond quickly to 999 calls. We managed around 10% of our patients through ‘Hear & Treat’ and directed about 1,500 patients a week to other sources of help.

Looking after our people

Colleagues are at the heart of everything we do and looking after colleagues’ health and wellbeing continued to be my top priority.

We made significant steps forward to reduce employee relations cases with 76% of legacy cases now closed. This momentum was maintained by recruiting additional investigators to take on the remaining cases, as well as any new ones. Additionally, suspension time has been reduced by 44%. We are also investing in expanding our permanent employee relations team so we can continue with this good work.

Providing the best possible HR support for everyone at the Trust, is critical, and we created a team of HR business partners to support managers in recruiting staff more quickly and resolving many people issues effectively.

Our welfare wagons had been out on the road providing snacks and drinks to crews who were waiting with patients at hospitals across the region. These were well

received and we plan to expand this service further during the coming year. Our experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the critical importance of ensuring our colleagues were well supported, practically and emotionally. We developed our wellbeing services to provide more support for mental health and musculoskeletal injuries and recruited a new head of wellbeing to take this work forward for us.

We transferred our trainees who were affected by an OFSTED inspection outcome last summer successfully to a new training provider and 49 of them recently completed their assessment. We have also secured a new training facility at West Suffolk College.

Developing an inclusive culture

We want to be an open, honest and inclusive place to work, which people are keen to join.

We grappled with a wide range of priorities and it’s clear to me that one of them is to help create the best possible organisational culture.

A culture directed by a clear and shared vision of what we want to achieve, and colleagues feel listened to, empowered and valued. Over the year we have expanded our activity to work towards this including running interactive values awareness workshops for everyone to support colleagues to challenge poor behaviours.

We saw a 900% increase in colleagues raising concerns through our Freedom to Speak Up scheme, about poor behaviours they had seen or experienced. It is a really positive step that colleagues feel able and are willing to talk.

A culture where everyone is committed to the Trust’s goals and understand the importance of their own role in that effort, is of particular importance in challenging times and we started to develop a formal leadership framework to collaboratively improve our service delivery.

We started to target improvements in areas where colleagues told us we needed to do more like improving equality, diversity and inclusion, addressing imbalances in our policies and processes, we introduced reciprocal mentoring for Board and senior leaders and further supported our colleague-led equality networks.

We made it easier for colleagues to collaborate and engage digitally through the supported roll out of electronic patient care records and the use of digital devices.

Strengthening Trust leadership

One of my first priorities when I took up post was to concentrate on strengthening our leadership team and I have appointed six new executive directors, five of which were in post during last year. This restructuring of the executive team enabled a repurposing of director portfolios and responsibilities.

We put in place arrangements to ensure that colleagues not only had the opportunity to engage with the executive team but also to hear from local leaders across the Trust increasing the opportunity to discuss and resolve local issues and concerns.

Looking forward, we will continue to focus on getting the basics right, ensuring collaborative, co-created and comprehensive approaches to providing quality and safe care, while working on our transformation programmes.

We have learned a lot during the year and we’re committed to making positive changes and continuing to improve the care we deliver. We will do this with the support of our colleagues, partners and patients. Thank you.

Portrait of Tom Abell, Chief Executive Officer

Tom Abell
Chief Executive

March 2022

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