The Info List - East Of England Ambulance Service

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is the authority responsible for providing National Health Service (NHS) ambulance services in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, in the East of England region. These consist of 5.8 million people and 7,500 square miles.

It is one of 10 Ambulance Trusts providing England with emergency medical services, and is part of the NHS, receiving direct government funding for its role. There is no charge to patients for use of the service, and under the Patient's Charter every person in the United Kingdom has the right to the attendance of an ambulance in an emergency.

As well as providing an emergency ambulance service, the Trust also provides out-of-hours primary care services, patient transport, commercial services and special operations such as emergency planning, and hazardous materials incident response.[1] The service also support a number of emergency charities, such as air ambulances, who provide doctors for serious incidents.

The Trust controls the mobilisation of Immediate Care charities throughout its area. These include Magpas Helimedix (HEMS), Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (HEMS), East Anglian Air Ambulance (HEMS), BASICS Essex Accident Rescue Service (BEARS), SARS, and NARS. The service can also, if required, mobilise London's Air Ambulance and even the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance if there is a major incident requiring more than one advanced trauma team, and where other teams in the region are operating at maximum capacity. The trauma teams are dispatched by a Critical Care Paramedic at the Critical Care Desk, in the Control Room, at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, who filters through every call the ambulance service receives and makes a clinical decision on whether to send an advanced trauma team to the scene. [2]


The trust was formed on 1 July 2006 following the three-way merger of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Ambulance and Paramedic Service NHS Trust, the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, and the Essex Ambulance Service NHS Trust. The result was a service covering an area of over 7,500 square miles (19,000 km2) with a population of 5.8 million people, and one which answers over 500,000 emergency calls per year.[3]

The East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust had been formed in 1994 from the three-way merger of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk Ambulance Services.[4]

In 2009, the Trust was censured by the Care Quality Commission after inspection of an ambulance depot and seven of its 100 ambulance stations found patient-carrying vehicles were "dirty" and that staff were "unsure of basic measures for infection prevention and control". The service launched an "urgent and comprehensive review" of its ambulance cleaning programme and reiterated its stance on patient safety, adding that "ensuring consistent high standards of cleanliness is a challenge" with so many stations, covering six counties and an area of 7,500 square-miles.[5]

A 2011 Mercedes Sprinter Double Staffed Ambulance (DSA)
A 2014 DSA responding to an emergency
Land Rover Freelander Duty Locality Officer & Rapid Response Vehicle
A Ford Mondeo RRV in Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Land Rover Discovery Sport Duty Locality Officer & Rapid Response Vehicle

Statistics and resources

EEAST Critical Care Desk
Helicopters from the East Anglian Air Ambulance are based in Cambridge and Norwich.
EEAST Critical Care Desk
G-HHEM (North Weald) and G-EHEM (Earls Colne) can be dispatched from Essex & Herts Air Ambulance.

In 2015/16, the trust received 1,037,119 emergency calls and handled 500,620 non-emergency patient transport journeys. The trust arrived at 66.9% of emergency Red 1 calls within eight minutes, and 59.9% of emergency Red 2 calls within eight minutes. Overall, the trust arrived to 90% of Red 1/2 calls within 19 minutes.[6]

EEAST employs more than 4,000 staff and has around 1,500 volunteers.

As of July 2016, the Trust has the following resources in operation:[7]

  • 357 front-line emergency ambulances
  • 201 marked rapid-response vehicles (RRV)
  • 164 non-emergency ambulances (Patient Transport Service - PTS)
  • 52 major incident support vehicles (HART/major incident/resilience vehicles)
  • Over 130 ambulance stations and response posts
  • 3 health emergency operations centers (EOC - control rooms) in Bedford, Chelmsford and Norwich

The Trust has its own emergency driving school, which trains drivers in 999 emergency driving under blue lights and sirens.[1]


A&E Ambulances (Double Staffed Ambulances / DSA)

The Trust uses exclusively the Mercedes Sprinter as front-line Double Staffed Ambulances (DSA). In 2009, the service started the transition to a brand-new Sprinter only fleet from a wide range of other brands - including Fords, Vauxhalls and older Mercedes vehicles. The scheme was finished in 2016, when the last brand-new Sprinter was delivered, although many of the older ones are now ending their cycle life. In March 2018, four new vehicles will be trialled across the East of England, with one concept vehicle being designed exclusively for and by the Trust.

Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs)

Ford Mondeos and Skoda Octavia Scouts (4x4) are the most common amongst the fleet. In addition Land Rover Freelander and Land Rover Discovery Sport operate out of a limited number of bases. Some Freelanders are used as Officer Cars, responding to major incidents (e.g. Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) and fires) to co-oridnate resources.

Patient Transport Service (PTS)

Renault Masters and Vauxhall Movanos are used for the PTS service. A number of these vehicles are fitted with blue lights and sirens for High Dependency (Critical care & Intensive care) transfers.

Hazardous Area Response Team (HART)

The HART team uses Volkswagen Transporters and Mercedes Sprinters, all of which have 4x4 capability. The new fleet arrived in 2017, standardising all HART vehicles across the 10 ambulances services in England and Wales. It replaced Land Rover Discoverys and Iveco Dailys.

Air Ambulances

The trust provides Critical Care Paramedics (CCPs) to 3 local charity air ambulances in the region: Magpas, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance and the East Anglian Air Ambulance. These paramedics work alongside doctors (who are seconded from NHS Hospitals) to administer advanced treatment at the scene of the accident. Although the service uses the air ambulances, it does not fund the charities.


In order of clinical skills (top=least skill, bottom=most skill)

Italics indicated specialist, advanced role.

Emergency Crew

  • Intermediate Ambulance Practitioner
  • Associate Ambulance Practitioner
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Graduate/Student Paramedic
  • Paramedic
  • Duty Locality Officer (Managers with Occasional Response Capability)
  • Critical Care Paramedic
  • Emergency Care Practitioner

Patient Transfer Service

  • Patient Transport Driver
  • Ambulance Care Assistant

Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)

  • Call handler
  • Dispatcher

Patient transport services

The trust took over patient transport services in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire in February 2018 after the private provider, Private Ambulance Service Ltd went into administration. A two year contract was awarded on an emergency basis.[9]


In 2013-14 the Trust missed all of its targets in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. 73.6% of "red 1 calls" for immediately life-threatening situations were met within eight minutes against a target of 75%. 69.4% of "red 2 calls", which may be life-threatening but less time critical were responded to within eight minutes against a 75% target. In north Norfolk, rapid responses during one month were as low as 25%.[10] According to the Clinical Commissioning Group performance had "deteriorated overall in comparison to prior year at both regional and local level".[11] In August 2014, the Trust was fined £1.2m over these failures. It was also fined £300,000 over turnaround times at hospitals. The fines were accrued between April and July 2014. EEAST, which handles more than 900,000 emergency 999 calls a year, said it was recruiting hundreds of new staff and investing in new ambulances.[12] In a statement in November 2014, Chief executive Anthony Marsh blamed EEASTS’ continued failure to meet its emergency response time targets on a lack of staff. Acknowledging that the service was still "not good enough” he said that "significant progress" had been made; 536 student paramedics and a further 69 graduate and qualified paramedics and emergency medical technicians had been recruited since January 2014.[10]

In October 2014, EEAST apologised after claims were published in a local newspaper that a body had been left lying next to dustbins at its station in Ely, Cambridgeshire the previous month. Chief executive Anthony Marsh said the Trust was "very sorry for what happened" and had started a "thorough investigation". An EEAST spokesman confirmed the investigation involved "the transportation of a deceased patient", but said he could not comment further as inquiries were ongoing. The newspaper which published the claims said it had done so after being approached by a whistleblower.[13]

The trust was accused of putting patient safety at risk in July 2017 because of a “fixation” with hitting response time targets, using a practice referred to as “stopping the clock” - sending a rapid response vehicle to a call within the target time, leaving the patient to wait longer for the arrival of an ambulance.[14]

Delays, according to a whistleblower, led to the deaths of at least 19 patients and serious harm to 21 more during January 2018. A patient taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, had to wait in the back of the ambulance that took him there for four and a half hours before being seen by a doctor inside the building. [15] A summit was held with NHS England and NHS Improvement in January 2018. It was announced that it would “take steps to improve staff availability at peak times, including action to improve staff health through flu vaccination and reviewing the trust’s leave policy.” and that it would hire extra vehicles. [16]

See also

Other emergency services covering the East of England:


  1. ^ a b [1]
  2. ^ List of Care Schemes in East of England BASICS, Accessed 18/10/2010
  3. ^ East of England Ambulance Service
  4. ^ EAAT welcomes ambulance merger East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust, 16 May 2006
  5. ^ Patients at risk of infection from dirty ambulances The Telegraph, 2 Oct 2009
  6. ^ http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/about-us/
  7. ^ "About us". East of England Ambulance Service. Retrieved 21 July 2016. 
  8. ^ "Working for us". www.eastamb.nhs.uk. Retrieved 2018-03-03. 
  9. ^ "Trust given two-year contract after private provider collapse". Health Service Journal. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  10. ^ a b "East of England Ambulance target failures 'down to lack of staff'". BBC News. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  11. ^ "Performance of troubled ambulance trust deteriorated". Health Service Journal. 2 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "East of England Ambulance fined over target time failures". BBC News. 29 August 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "Body 'left near bins' in Ely claim prompts ambulance apology". BBC News. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Trust accused of putting patients at risk with 'fixation' on targets". Health Service Journal. 12 July 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017. 
  15. ^ Meek, James (5 April 2018). "NHS SOS" (Vol. 40 No. 7). London Review of Books. Retrieved 31 March 2018. 
  16. ^ "Scandal-hit ambulance trust to hire private sector capacity and review staff leave". Health Service Journal. 2 February 2018. Retrieved 31 March 2018. 

External links