"Ambulance service facing most challenging year yet" - Larrey Society Chairman

Monday, 11 January, 2016


The NHS ambulance service has entered possibly its most challenging period on record with mounting financial problems, staff shortages and serious question marks over its operational performance, the chairman of The Larrey Society, the emergency medical services “think tank” told delegates at a seminar in London today (11 January 2016).David Davis said that that after a torrid 2015 the trusts have started the new year with:

  • 8 of the 10 having financial deficits, with East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) topping the list of losers with a deficit of £8.47 million in the first eight months of 2015;
  • London Ambulance Service, the largest in England, in special measures after a report by Care Quality Commission inspectors and now Monitor, the sector’s regulator, The Trust Development Authority, and the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, have sent in a “rescue squad” to LAS;
  • An increasing number of paramedics and other ambulance staff quitting the NHS over inadequate pay and poor working conditions, according to trade union research.

He added: “The private sector has not found it much easier.The largest companies, created by a surge of overseas investment in recent years which has now dried up, are gradually pulling back from the market…..they have discovered it has been virtually impossible to deliver the quality of patient service after winning contracts with artificially low bids. 

“At the same time the smaller ambulance companies are being forced out of the PTS business as NHS trusts are cutting back on the use of private providers…

Looking ahead Davis predicted that in 2016:

  • The financial and recruitment pressures will intensify for NHS ambulance trusts;
  • The CQC will be stepping up its ambulance inspections and there is general expectation of ‘special measures’ action against at least one NHS trust being taken, similar to LAS;
  • With the gradual demise of the largest private companies, the next tier, which have worked hard in recent years to improve their professional management skills and operational performances, will benefit by moving into the space over the next 12 months; smaller providers will continue to suffer.

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