East of England Ambulance Service Trust placed into special measures after allegations of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct
The East of England Ambulance Service Trust which was found to have 'high levels of bullying, harassment and discrimination' has been placed into special measures.
In June, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) carried out a three-week inspection at the trust, which serves Suffolk , after seven whistleblowers raised concerns about staff and patient safety and sexual misconduct within the organisation.
In a damning report published last month, inspectors said 'significant work' was needed to make staff feel that their concerns were 'listened to and acted upon'.
Mark Heath, the CQC's head of hospital inspections who led the inspection, said in the report: "There were continued high levels of bullying, harassment and discrimination and the organisation had failed to take adequate action to reduce this.
"There was a failure by the executive team to identify and recognise the risk and impact to staff and patient safety from the poor culture throughout the organisation."
He added that the trust lacked systems and processes to address and tackle behaviour which was 'inconsistent with the trust's vision and values' and that the mental health and well-being of staff was not being treated as a priority.
Leaders were also said to have been 'combative and defensive' when approached by staff about personal concerns or risks.
The inspection found 12 breaches of legal requirements within the trust and as a result, the Chief Inspector of Hospitals recommended that the trust be placed into special measures.
This means it has been provided with specific ways in which it must improve, including the formation of an improvement committee, and its progress will be monitored regularly by the body.
Putting an effective safeguarding system in place, a review of how allegations made by staff are dealt with, and ensuring that staff are protected from sexual assault and harassment are among the actions the trust been told it 'must' take.
A joint statement from NHS England and NHS Improvement said an improvement director would be appointed as part of the reform process.
The plan also includes the launch of a tailored ‘Freedom to Speak Up’ support package, external "buddying" links with fellow ambulance services and board development sessions.
Ann Radmore, regional director, said: “While the trust has been working through its many challenges, there are long-standing concerns around culture, leadership and governance.
"It is important that the trust supports its staff to deliver the high-quality care that patients deserve.
“We know that the trust welcomes this decision and shares our commitment to re-shape its culture and address quality concerns for the benefit of staff, patients and the wider community.”