Concerns at potential for ‘leadership instability’ at Sussex ambulance service

Daren Mochrie, chief executive of SECAmb, announced he was leaving the trust in the spring to take a similar position in the North West
Daren Mochrie, chief executive of SECAmb, announced he was leaving the trust in the spring to take a similar position in the North West

West Sussex councillors have raised concerns about leadership ‘instability’ within the area’s ambulance service.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) was recently upgraded from ‘inadequate’ to ‘requires improvement’ by the Care Quality Commission, though it remains in special measures.

While members of the county council’s health and adult social care select committee welcomed the ‘green shoots of recovery’ on Thursday (November 15), they were concerned by the news that chief executive Daren Mochrie would be leaving in the spring.

Committee chairman Bryan Turner (Con, Broadwater) said the improvements were good news but felt Mr Mochrie’s decision to move to another trust ‘unfortunately brings a bit of instability again’.

He added: “I think one of the reasons we get large organisations failing is when they don’t get consistency of leadership. So that’s a risk.”

Anne Jones (Con, Burgess Hill East) said SECAmb had been in a ‘difficult scenario’ ever since it was formed following the merger of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex ambulance services in 2006.

She added: “They’ve got an impossible job. I don’t know how they’re ever really going to achieve the kind of service that they used to give us years ago.”

A spokesman for SECAmb said Mr Mochrie had been ‘instrumental in ensuring we have a strong executive team’ and would be around until the spring ‘ensuring there isn’t a case of instability in the leadership’.

He added: “We have got a very strong leadership team and the improvements were reflected in the CQC report.

“What we’re doing now is a very different service to what the ambulance service used to provide. We are responding to more life-threatening calls every day than we did a decade ago.

“We are confident we are in a better position than a year ago. We are confident we have a strong leadership team.”