EEAST awarded £18m to get crews back in the community faster

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has been awarded over £18 million to fund extensive improvements to support crews to deliver care to patients quicker. 

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has given EEAST the money to improve or replace some of our outdated bases. It comes following a successful bid made by the Suffolk and North East Essex shadow Integrated Care System.

The new bases will improve facilities for crews while also incorporating on-site vehicle workshops, which will allow EEAST to bring maintenance in-house, in turn helping keep ambulances on the road more.

They will also house EEAST’s new 24/7 make-ready service, which will see specialist teams work around the clock to clean and restock all vehicles to a consistently high standard. This will free up operational staff from completing these tasks so that they can get back out to respond to patients more quickly.

The news comes as EEAST prepares to start work on the first phase of the make-ready project, which will see 10 sites upgraded in Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

Made possible with £6.5m of DHSC funding, this work will help future-proof winters to come. This winter, the focus will be on preparation so that the new service can be phased in from the spring. An additional 60 staff will also be recruited in phases to deliver the service from the initial 10 sites.

Part of the money will be spent installing a new, real-time tracking system so that every piece of equipment and medical device can be located at any one time, giving added assurance that vehicles are correctly stocked while making it easier to carry out servicing and repairs. The system will also alert make-ready staff when a crew has used specific pieces of medical equipment so they can prepare to restock replacement items when the vehicle returns to base following an emergency call, again saving time.

Richard Kirk, Head of Make-Ready Services at EEAST, said: “We are delighted that we have been awarded this additional national funding. Together with the £6.5m we have already received, it will help us create the infrastructure to phase in our 24/7 make-ready service, in turn ensuring there is always a fully-stocked, cleaned and checked vehicle ready for our crews to use. This will help them get back out on the roads to take life-saving help our patients as quickly as possible.

“Once rolled out across the region, the make-ready service will help improve efficiency while also ensuring every vehicle we operate, regardless of where it is based, will be stocked, cleaned and maintained to the same consistently high standards. Employing dedicated make-ready teams will also free up our frontline staff so that they can get back to treating our sickest patients more quickly.”

Dr Ed Garratt, Chief Officer for Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which is the lead commissioner of EEAST on behalf of 19 of the region’s CCGs, said: “I’ve seen how valuable the make-ready services are to keeping ambulances well-equipped and in good order. There will be a real benefit to staff to get better quality facilities as well. Put together, it will mean crews get back on the road more quickly, which means that patients in the community will be seen more quickly.”