INSPECTORS have recommended the region’s ambulance service go into special measures after finding poor leadership had fostered bullying and abuse with 13 members of staff referred to the police for sexual misconduct.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspected the East of England Ambulance Service Trust in the summer prompted by information from sources – including whistleblowers – about the safeguarding of patients and staff from sexual abuse, inappropriate behaviour and harassment.
The inspection described the trust’s leadership as defensive and lacking skills for their roles.
The report said a number of referrals had been made about sexual misconduct.
It said: “Between April 2019 and March 2020, the trust had 13 instances of staff members referred to the police for allegations relating to sexual misconduct and predatory behaviour, including allegations of staff abusing patients.
“We were concerned that the trust had not taken decisive actions to identify the extent of this significant risk within the organisation.”
Overall, the trust has been rated as requires improvement.
It was classed as inadequate in the well-led category.
NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHS E/I) has already begun to put a package of support measures in place to help the trust address the concerns raised.
Ted Baker, England’s chief inspector of hospitals, said:“We continue to monitor the trust closely.
“We will return to inspect it, to determine whether improvements have been made.”
Ambulance service chairman Nicola Scrivings said:“Today’s report calls out where we need to improve and we will now do everything possible, as fast as possible, to make the improvements required.
“We are working closely with the CQC, NHS colleagues and other partners to take action right now to address these concerns and put this right for the long-term.”