Monitor meets Sussex MPs over SECAmb delays

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MPs from across Sussex have met with health regulator Monitor to discuss a project which saw patient care delayed last winter.

Representatives from Monitor today (November 30) met with MPs from the south of England to discuss its enforcement action at South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

The ambulance trust has been investigated following a project known as R3/G5 – run between December 2014 to February 2015 – which allowed an extra ten minutes for assessments before ambulances were dispatched to some urgent calls.

While SECAmb said there is ‘no evidence’ patients were ‘negatively impacted’ during the process, a report by NHS England states: “Commissioners identified 25 incidents associated with the Red 3 project and seven of these incidents appeared to meet the serious incident criteria.

“The trust itself had only identified two serious incidents.”

Approximately 20,000 calls were subject to deliberate delays and there was no assessment of whether the project would put lives at risk.

The meeting was organised by Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell, who called for Monitor to explain how the pilot project was allowed to happen and demanded SECAmb published all its internal investigations about the project.

A Monitor spokesperson said: “We are working with South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to ensure that it looks closely at the changes it made to ambulance response times, the impact on patients and the way the organisation is run.

“Many people will be concerned to hear about the delays that were added to some ambulance response times last winter, so we organised a meeting with MPs today to explain further the action we took last month.”

Speaking in October, Paul Streat, regional director at Monitor, said: “Over the winter, there were significant demands on the NHS and it is understandable that trusts want to explore better ways of delivering the best possible care. But this project was poorly managed from the start, done without the proper authorisation and without enough thought given to how it might affect patients.

“We have asked the trust to review the action it took to make sure there was no harm to patients, and look again at the way decisions are taken to prevent something like this happening again.”

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