Chief executive of struggling East of England Ambulance Service is to resign

Ambulance service chief executive Robert Morton is to resign

Ambulance service chief executive Robert Morton is to resign - Credit: Archant

The chief executive of our region’s troubled ambulance service has announced he is to resign.

Robert Morton has been head of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust for three years but, with the organisation battling a staffing crisis and poor response times, he has tendered his resignation.

Mr Morton apologised in May after it was revealed 22 patients had suffered some form of harm - three of them severe - in ambulance delays caused by “unprecedented” winter demand.

Health watchdog the Care Quality Commission rated the ambulance service as ‘requires improvement’ in July, saying it is failing to meet legal requirements when it comes to safe care and treatment, staffing and governance.

In other areas it was praised, with staff in the emergency and urgent care service said to have displayed outstanding patient-centred care and that the ambulance trust cared for patients with compassion, treating them with dignity and respect.

The trust is not meeting national ambulance response standards and last month said it is considering using volunteers to drive frontline ambulances in a bid to tackle the crippling staff shortages.

Mr Morton has not confirmed his leaving date. He said: “While I feel privileged to be the chief executive, my future plans mean I cannot commit to a further three years. I feel this is the right time to hand over to someone else.

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“I wish to record my thanks to our trust chair, Sarah Boulton, and my board and executive colleagues for their unwavering support and commitment over the last three years.

“I also want to thank staff for their care, compassion and commitment to our patients and to supporting each other.”

Ms Boulton said: “For three years, Robert has successfully secured long-lasting changes on behalf of patients and staff. Together, we have found a talented and steadfast board to lead a wider team to deliver those improvements.

“The biggest achievement of the board he built was to secure a six-year contract with our commissioners. This means we can recruit more staff over the next three years, and increase the numbers of ambulances we have on the roads. As a result, we expect to see improvements in performance.

“Robert’s legacy is a great one. He has had the vision and compassion to get us into a great place, and our highly skilled board members will continue on their course to leading the trust to becoming a high-performing trust.”