GRAHAM TURNER: Fining ambulance service seems an odd way to improve it

A personal view
A personal view
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It may be a very naive point of view, but I don’t understand how fining the East of England Ambulance Service £1.5 million for failing to hit targets is going to improve the situation.

We all know that it is an organisation in crisis and has been for some time, but the current management seems to have a plan – more staff, more vehicles, better training, improved financial controls – so it seems daft to do anything that might put a spanner in the works.

It appears that the money – £1.2 million for failing to reach 75 per cent of life-threatening emergencies within eight minutes and £300,000 for poor turnaround times at hospitals – stays in the NHS, going back to the clinical commissioning groups who use the ambulance service, including our own in West Suffolk, but I imagine the sums being returned to each of these individual groups will be relatively small.

There will, of course, be some complex formulae behind the figures, but I do hope that they are not rigid and arbitrary and take account of the rural nature of our region and also that there will be many other factors outside of the service’s control. Turnaround times, for example, will surely be affected by how busy an A&E department is – we’ve had examples at West Suffolk Hospital when ambulances have had to queue outside and wait to pass on patients.

Greater minds than mine are dedicated to making the NHS work, but I wonder if the continued fragmentation of services, under different managements, is really the best way to provide a seamless, comprehensive service.

I’m equally bewildered by the latest changes within schools.

The much-heralded new national curriculum was launched this week (I pity youngsters having to study 
all that Shakespeare – yes, I’m a Philistine!), but I’m intrigued by the escape clause for academies and free schools which don’t have to stick to it.

Given the mish mash of institutions across the country (and Suffolk), I wonder how it works if a child moves from a primary level academy – so not necessarily following the national curriculum – to a non-academy secondary school? Will that child be at a disadvantage?

Is this joined up thinking?