Ambulance service gets trust status

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AN ambulance service is celebrating after being awarded trust status – enabling it to shape its services to suit patients.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), which serves Hartlepool and east Durham, has become only the third ambulance service in England to become an NHS foundation trust.

The new status comes after a period of assessment by the health regulator, Monitor, and means local people will have a greater influence over how NEAS operates in the future.

Simon Featherstone, chief executive, said: “I believe that as an NHS foundation trust we will be able to work more closely with members of the public in our area, reflecting their needs in the development of our services, ensuring that health care is timely and effective and making a major contribution to the wellbeing of people in our community.”

Stephen Hay, Monitor’s chief operating officer, said: “To become a foundation trust, the organisation – whether ambulance, acute, mental health or community trust - must be able to demonstrate that it is financially robust and that it has strong governance, both in terms of quality and finances.”

As a foundation trust, NEAS has recruited more than 7,500 people from all walks of life across the North East to become foundation trust members, and their opinions will play a prominent role in future decision making.

Under proposals in the current Health and Social Care Bill all remaining eight ambulance trusts nationwide will aim to become a foundation trust, or form part of one, by April 2014.