Ambulance chief under growing pressure to accept responsibility for ‘111’ deaths, as Telegraph publishes leaked official report
Pressure is increasing for the chief executive of the ambulance trust serving Brighton and Hove to take responsibility for a secret policy which may have cost up to 25 patients’ lives.
Between 11 and 25 patients are believed to have died because calls to the NHS 111 number, but which needed an emergency response, were not put through promptly to 999 operators.
A leaked official report places ultimate blame for the decision on Paul Sutton, who runs the South East Coast Ambulance Service (Secamb), according to the Daily Telegraph today (Monday 29 February).
The Telegraph relates the findings of a report commissioned by the NHS regulator Monitor.
The newspaper said in its front-page report: “Some 20,000 patients were affected by the covert operation that kept high-risk cases in the south east waiting up to twice as long if their call was referred from the (111) helpline.
“At least 11 deaths have been linked to the rogue protocols.”
Ambulance chiefs are suspected of trying to make the trust’s performance appear better than it was.
They have said that the changes were about proper priorities and intended to ensure the most serious cases received the quickest response.
The Telegraph said: “An inquiry into the scandal has concluded that the plan was approved by the chief executive of South East Coast Ambulance Trust.
“The report says Paul Sutton ordered the changes despite pleas from senior managers highlighting the dangers. He is now expected to come under pressure to resign.
“The ‘forensic review’ ordered by regulators, due to be published shortly, is one of three probes into the affair.
“It details how the secret policy came to be introduced without the knowledge of the trust’s broad, or a risk assessment, and in clear breach of NHS rules.
“A separate inquiry is examining the damage caused by the protocols to the thousands of patients affected.”
According to the Telegraph, the Monitor report also “accuses senior executives of attempting to cover up their failing when the truth began to emerge”.