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Essex MP meets 999 call handlers at refurbished Ambulance Operations Centre

Date: 14 November 2022

Essex MP and International Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch visited the refurbished Ambulance Operations Centre (AOC) in Chelmsford to see the improved working facilities and meet ambulance control room employees.

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received more than 96,000 calls from members of the public to 999 during October 2022. The AOC at Broomfield Hospital is in Mrs Badenoch’s parliamentary constituency of Saffron Walden.   

On Friday (November 4) Kemi met with some of the call handlers who take 999 calls every day and heard about the often dramatic incidents they have to calmly deal with.

Kemi Badenoch with a call handler

The Chelmsford centre has recently been given a £950,000 upgrade with improved power supply security to increase operational resilience, and a number of other measures to enhance working conditions for staff, including new adjustable desks, an extended kitchen and new toilets and shower system, and improved ventilation, lighting and security around the site.

Kemi Badenoch said: “I could see first-hand the skill the staff require to establish people’s needs and determine the right help to send – all within seconds of picking up the call.

“The upgraded Ambulance Operations Centre at Chelmsford will definitely improve the working conditions for those in demanding jobs at the front line of local emergency healthcare. It’s also been an eye-opener to see that, although people with serious illness and injuries still get urgent hospital transport, a lot of the ambulance service’s work now also involves signposting less urgent patients to other services.

“NHS England has allocated an additional £150 million to address ambulance service pressures in 2022/23 and support improvements to response times through call handler recruitment and retention. The team at the operations centre in Broomfield are doing a remarkable job during a challenging time and I will continue to support them and EEAST wherever possible.”

Matt Crisp, a 999 call handler for 2 years at Chelmsford said: “As call handlers, we staff the operations centre round the clock and work 12-hour shifts, so being able to get a hot meal during your break, or take a shower when you finish work can make a big difference to your day.
“It not only helps improve your performance, but enables you to come off your shift feeling fresher and ready to step back into everyday life.”

Chief Executive of EEAST, Tom Abell said that the refurbishment was part of a number of schemes being carried out throughout the EEAST region to improve call-handling facilities and the response to 999 calls.

“Call handlers are the first point of contact for people that need the ambulance service.
“It’s a demanding job, but one that has a key role in delivering emergency care to our patients.
“We are currently hiring call handlers across our region, so if you are looking for a job that really makes a difference – EEAST offers full training, a rewarding career and a good package of employment benefits.”

  • Summary:

    Essex MP and International Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch visited the refurbished Ambulance Operations Centre (AOC) in Chelmsford.