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Patients Association responds to inquiry leak: Urgent ambulance calls ‘secretly’ downgraded at SECamb

Patients Association Chief Executive Katherine Murphyresponded to news of a leaked report indicating that Paul Sutton, chief executive of South East Coast Ambulance Trust (SECamb), implemented a secret procedure that downgraded urgent ambulance calls in order to improve performance indicators

“This confirms our previous serious concerns about secretive decision-making and cover-up at SECamb. Everyone working in the NHS should be making the right decisions based on the best way to protect peoples’ lives and their health. The public especially expects that those in leadership positions are held accountable for their actions. Any decision that downgrades urgent category ambulance calls in order to massage performance targets is deplorable, and undermines the confidence that the public places in NHS leaders. 

“If Mr. Sutton chose to ignore colleagues’ concerns about the dangerous consequences of downgrading emergency ambulance calls, this suggests exceptionally poor decision making by someone in a key leadership role. Such conduct would fall far short of the standards that the public expects. There are also important questions for other senior staff in the Trust to answer. 

“This issue goes back to 2014 and should have been resolved long ago, rather than being dragged out through leaked reports. The Trust should apologise and the NHS should ensure this never happens again.”

Notes to Editors: 

  • The Patients Association is an independent national health and social care charity established over 52 years ago, which has a long history of campaigning to ensure that the voice of patients is heard within the UK Health and Social care system.
  • For further information please contact Deborah McDonald, Director of Operations & Marketing, on 020 8423 9111, or email deborah@patients-association.com or call 07779 004898.
  • Visit our website at www.patients-association.org.uk
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