The Board have recently announced they have a preferred candidate they want to appoint as our Chief Executive and until that appointment is finalised, Sandy Brown will be our interim CEO.
Dr Anthony Marsh is no longer our Chief Executive and has returned to the West Midlands.
The Board and Trust Chair are ultimately accountable for their decisions and we look forwards to them sharing their plans for the future of our Trust.
I first met Dr Marsh early in 2014 as a UNISON rep at Cromer, when he offered to meet with me about the issues we were campaigning over in north Norfolk.
There was local funding planned for additional RRVs and we had evidenced the need for more DSAs, which had created an entrenched position with our local management team, who were not willing to support our position. Dr Marsh listened and during that meeting he made some calls, making sure we could use the funding for much needed additional DSAs.
Trust wide this was one of the first things Dr Marsh put in place; reducing RRVs and increasing DSAs, which worsened our performance on paper, but reduced back up delays for our patients. This supportive change also helped staff who did not want to work on RRVs anymore due to the enormous pressure caused by dealing with chronic back up delays. Ensuring no one is forced to work on RRVs and protecting lone workers was something Dr Marsh held a strong line over.
Gradually between us we built a sound working relationship, which as a new Branch Secretary I especially valued. Coming into a politically charged somewhat machiavellian working environment, after working in a close knit team of very caring people on the frontline, was far from easy. Although we didn’t agree on everything, we had an honest, trust based relationship which enabled us together to bring in many supportive changes for staff.
These changes included a pay band agreement for Paramedics and EMTs; a separate disability policy; protected time for VDIs to address the SIs where staff have not had time to check vehicles prior to responding; HCRT to support PTS staff at risk of TUPE; a team of staffside mediators, and many other supportive changes to policies based on addressing casework from around the Trust. I’m very proud of what we achieved in just over a year. In Ambulance sector there are other trusts that are striving to gain some of the changes we have achieved in EEAST.
Sandy Brown has recently become the joint chair of our Staff Partnership Forum and as the Director of Nursing he’s very clinically focused, which is encouraging.
Whomever the Board choose to appoint substantively as our CEO, as your Branch Secretary I will hold the ground we have made and strive for further supportive changes, hopefully through partnership working.
We still have a significant way to go to change culture in our Trust and with instability at Board level, our Put back the Heart Campaign is needed more than ever.
Staff are the heart of our Ambulance Trust and we need a genuinely staff focused CEO who will continue to work with us to support and empower staff to improve working conditions, which is vital to addressing retention issues.
Nationally Ambulance sector is facing huge challenges and we have the absolute ability to change things for the better within our walls. We need a CEO with vision, that’s brave enough to continue the work started and not be content with making sure we’re in the middle of the pack. If we move back to that ‘middle ground’ mentality, we’ll constantly be fire fighting, we’ll lose sight of the common purpose to better support our staff and we’ll likely see a lot more campaigning. If other trusts are putting up with issues that are damaging their staff, that is not a sensible rationale for choosing to do the same.
Some staff have already expressed their fears over the news that Dr Marsh is no longer in EEAST – we are far from alone – we have a very strong membership in UNISON, which has grown by many hundreds of members over the past 15 months. We also have the full support of both UNISON Eastern Region and National, as well as some very significant MPs that have and will continue to offer us, the staff, their support.
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to support our campaigning and been in touch over the past few days. This is our Ambulance Trust and we’ll keep moving it in the right direction together.
Keep smiling and looking out for each other.
UNISON Branch Secretary
East of England Ambulance Service 20106
We must generate courage equal to the size of the difficulties we face. ~ Dalai Lama