Unconfirmed reports suggest that ambulance boss Paul Sutton has been suspended from duty over the 111 call handling scandal.
The GMB union tweeted this evening (Monday 7 March) that it was trying to verify reports that Mr Sutton had been placed on leave.
The reports follow growing pressure over the past week for Mr Sutton to step down as chief executive of the South East Coast Ambulance Service, which serves Brighton and Hove.
The ambulance trust tonight did not deny that Mr Sutton had been suspended but said that it would be inappropriate to comment.
A leaked report last week suggested that Mr Sutton was ultimately responsible for a secret policy that may have cost up to 25 patients’ lives.
The Daily Telegraph carried details of the leaked report. The newspaper suggested that between 11 and 25 patients may have died because calls to the NHS 111 number, but which needed an emergency response, were not put through promptly to 999 operators.
The Telegraph said that it was relating 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 said that they were trying to prioritise patients more efficiently.
Tonight a spokesman for the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “It is not appropriate for the trust to comment on the position of any individuals at this time.”
We are getting reports which we are trying to get confirmed that the chief exec of SECAM has been suspended over recent scandal
— GMB Sussex Branch (@GMBSussexBranch) March 7, 2016
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