Ambulance service boss leaves trust to ‘pursue other interests’ after controversial project

South East Coast Ambulance Service
South East Coast Ambulance Service
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The chief executive of Sussex’s ambulance service has left the trust to ‘pursue other interests’ following criticism of a controversial project that delayed some call-outs to patients.

Paul Sutton took a leave of absence from South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) back in March after the publication of a report highlighting poor governance of a pilot run by the trust between December 2014 and February 2015.

It delayed sending help for certain 111 calls, including those graded as ‘serious but not the most life threatening’, transferring them instead to the 999 system to be ‘re-triaged’.

Although the independent report from Deloitte acknowledged that there was ‘considerable pressure’ on the urgent and emergency care system in late 2014, the ‘high risk and sensitive project’ was carried out ‘without adequate clinical assessment or appraisal’.

It explained that the chief executive ‘made the ultimate decision to proceed with the pilot and played a critical leadership role throughout’.

A spokesman for SECAmb said: “South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust announces that chief executive Paul Sutton has now left the trust to pursue other interests.

“The trust would like to thank Paul for his contribution to the developments and achievements of the trust over the past ten years.

“The process for finding a permanent replacement will start immediately and will be subject to further announcements as appropriate. In the interim period, Geraint Davies will continue as acting chief executive.”

Following the Deloitte report a joint recovery plan is being agreed with the trust’s commissioners and Monitor, while a separate independent patient impact review is set to be published in June.

Chairman Tony Thorne resigned from the trust in March.

According to the trust’s annual accounts for 2014/15, Mr Sutton’s salary was between £160,000 to £165,000, along with £4,900 in other benefits and more than £90,000 in pension-related benefits.

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