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Ambulance Watch campaign scoops national award

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An Eastern Daily Press fight for a first-class ambulance service in East Anglia has resulted in the newspaper scooping a national award.

Ambulance Watch, which has been highlighting the failings of the East of England Ambulance Service since October 2012, won the local health campaign award at the Medical Journalists’ Association’s (MJA) winter awards.

Archant Norfolk health correspondent Adam Gretton (pictured above) picked up the prize at a ceremony at the British Medical Association headquarters in Tavistock Square, London, on January 30.

The MJA awards aim to recognise and celebrate the very best of health journalism and were attended by more than 100 guests from mostly national newspapers, broadcasters and specialist medical journals.

Ambulance Watch was launched after patients contacted the EDP to report long waits for ambulances in rural Norfolk and Suffolk in their time of need. Since the campaign began, there have been two chairman resignations, one chief executive resignation, and all five non-executive directors resigned last year.

The campaign has exposed the trust’s paramedic recruitment problems and the organisation’s over- reliance on less qualified emergency care assistants. Ambulance Watch has highlighted a net decrease in the numbers of double-staffed ambulances in Norfolk and Suffolk,high private ambulance costs, and handover delays at Accident and Emergency departments.

Nigel Pickover, editor-in-chief of the EDP, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for our Ambulance Watch campaign, which has been fighting for more than a year for improvements in ambulance response times for patients in Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire.

“The campaign has exposed many failings of the East of England Ambulance Service, which is beginning to improve with a completely new leadership and board of directors.

“However, Ambulance Watch will not stop until the ambulance service addresses performance issues and improves response times. The hard-working frontline staff and patients deserve a first-class service.”

Ambulance Watch has also been shortlisted for the community campaign of the year at the EDF East of England Media Awards, which will be held later this month.

© Archant Ltd 2013