East of England Ambulance Service Trust to address ‘staggering’ equipment losses

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance - Credit: Archant

The region’s ambulance service is addressing losses of equipment after more than £215,000 worth of items went missing between 2012 and 2014.

Figures released as a result of a Freedom of Information request by a member of the public revealed laptops, defibrillators, thermometers and a stretcher were among the items recorded as lost by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust during this period.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “This is a staggering figure.

“Paramedics are doing a tough job in difficult circumstances but we’ve really got to crack down on the amount of lost kit.

“It’s crucial that every penny of taxpayers’ money pumped into the NHS is being used as effectively as possible.”

An ambulance trust spokesman said: “We recognise that there is an issue and are looking at how we can minimise any losses.

“The nature of our crews’ work is very dynamic and unpredictable and providing the best and most appropriate care for patients often involves the use of multiple pieces of equipment, often with patients in critical conditions.

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“There are times when all items are not accounted for following a call-out, such as during the transfer of the patient at hospital when it may stay with a patient to ensure continuity of care.

“We have systems in place to ensure that lost, misplaced or unreturned equipment is reported and we are looking at ways to minimise these losses going forward.

“Patient safety is of paramount importance and we have a supply line in place to quickly replace missing items, ensuring our vehicles are fully stocked when sent out on the road.”

The ambulance trust also announced last week that the latest lifesaving medical equipment – such as defibrillators and major trauma packs – will be installed on all emergency ambulances and rapid response cars.

More than £12 million has been invested in introducing the latest 12-lead defibrillators, with 160 having been rolled out and a further 223 ordered.

The equipment drive is part of the ambulance trust’s six-point plan to improve response times, which has seen the recruitment of hundreds of student paramedics to improve ambulance cover and frontline staffing.

Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “Alongside our modernisation of the ambulance fleet, the investment into new equipment will build on our already improving performance and more importantly the service we provide to our patients.

“I would like to thank our fleet and medical devices teams for their hard work getting the new equipment on board our vehicles.”

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