Our Put back the heart campaign is needed more than ever…

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.

Take care,

Fraer Stevenson
UNISON Branch Secretary
East of England Ambulance Service 20106

We must generate courage equal to the size of the difficulties we face. ~ Dalai Lama

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17 Responses to Our Put back the heart campaign is needed more than ever…

  1. Ken Jones says:

    Keep on fighting, progress is being made and the pressure must be kept on. Good luck to you and the rest of the front line troops.c

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Becca says:

    Very sad to see ACM leave EEAST. He achieved more in just over a year than any of our full time chiefs. Let’s hope the board have a plan – somehow I doubt it’ll be good news for staff at the sharp end. Another yes man they can control.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Heather says:

    Keep strong Fraer x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Graham says:

    Why can’t the board go and we keep Anthony?! Retention issues?! – removing the only bloke that understood the problems staff face is going to help. Not! Well done to ‘the board.’ I hope MPs and unison make you accountable.


  5. Andy says:

    Thanks for everything you did to help support us Anthony Marsh. I met you at the funeral of a colleague in Norfolk last year and you showed us by turning up, you cared. Other senior managers didn’t bother. Without you I reckon we’ll be privatised in a year or so. God knows who the boards ‘preferred candidate is,’ some failed CEO from another trust that’ll leave with a golden handshake and maybe a medal after they’ve undone all your work.


  6. Alan says:

    What is our board doing? Fiddling while Rome burns, that what. FFS. Vote of no confidence and get ACM back.


  7. Dude says:

    Well said fraer. I have PTSD and can’t work on an RRV anymore. I met Dr Marsh when he came to visit our station. Non of the board have EVER bothered to visit. 10 decent paras at my station have left over the last few mnths and without a decent CEO more will follow. Thanks for everything you’re trying to do to help us. Always a cuppa & hug for you missy.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dave 'fedup' from Essex says:

    Can the last one out put out the cat and turn off the light. Without frontline staff what will the board do then? Prob exactly what they do now. Nuff said.


  9. RH says:

    I’m appalled at this. Visions and values campaign by the board. Don’t make me laugh. Rhetoric and spin more like. I can only imagine who the board have lined up, and why they’re being so secretive about it all. Feed us cr*p and keep us in the dark. Sums up what they think of staff and why so many are leaving.


  10. WGC says:

    Thank you fraer for telling us what’s going on. No bugger else appears to want us to know.


  11. Mark says:

    Why aren’t the Board telling us what’s going on?


  12. Tally says:

    Very sad day for EEAST, beginning of the end 😦


  13. Rebecca says:

    They can take our chief and probably our band 6, but they won’t take our spirit… Or will they! 😦


  14. Andrew says:

    http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/health/chief_executive_anthony_marsh_leaves_east_of_england_ambulance_service_trust_1_4186801. Why on earth would the board remove someone with Marsh’s experience when we still have so far to go to recover. We don’t need a yes man, been there, done that. If the board want a yes man – suggest they’re in the wrong feckin job.


  15. d'Erlon says:

    200 years ago due to conflicting orders General d’Erlon spent the day marching and counter marching 22,000 men between the battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny without engaging in either battle.
    EEAST seem to be employing the same strategy 200 years later, 88 miles driven none stop, backwards and forwards between three areas, stood down numerous times between jobs, completely demoralised and tired on finally reaching a patient.
    Message to the board, get a grip you are destroying us.


  16. Mike says:

    I’ve never met you Fraer but you seem proactive and keep us in ‘the loop’.. and regarding a new leader.we need someone who is brave enough and not afraid to say..”No….you’re not getting an ambulance”…..No wonder even the new ‘young ones’ have had enough (already)…not the job they thought it was…


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