East Midlands Ambulance Service must give Manchester Arena bombing inquiry ‘focus it deserves’

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Ambulance service bosses say they should not “underestimate” the resource which will be needed to put in place improvements drawn from the findings of an inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing.

East Midlands Ambulance Service’s response to the inquiry was addressed during its latest board meeting.

The Manchester Arena bombing, on May 22 2017, was the deadliest terrorist attack in the UK since the 2005 attacks in London.

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Suicide bomber Salman Abedi detonated a home-made device in the arena’s foyer as people left an Ariana Grande concert. Twenty-two people were killed and more than 900 injured.

EMAS's headquarters building.EMAS's headquarters building.
EMAS's headquarters building.

Sir John Saunders, chairman of an inquiry into the attack, said he could not rule out the survival of some victims if the emergency response had been better and that significant aspects of the response “went wrong” between the ambulance services, fire services and police forces. In total 149 recommendations have been made.

One of these was for reviews to be conducted by ambulance services across the country of their capacity to respond to a mass casualty incident.

EMAS has set up a strategic group and a business case is being drawn up to get financial support for the required new technology, facilities and training.

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Karen Tomlinson, EMAS chairman, said she had concerns over delivering improvements off the back of the inquiry findings, given the pressures the service is currently under.

While hospital handover delays decreased between December last year and January this year, staff turnover rates are rising.

“Given everything else going on and to land this on top of everything else is really quite worrying,” she said.

“It is that public confidence. I think there are some big undertakings here, I don’t think we should underestimate the resource.

“It is almost a project in its own right.”

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Ben Holdaway, EMAS operations director, said: “We need to give this the focus it deserves.

“That’s how we are looking at it. We are trying to get some of the quick wins done, which we have already done, so there are a few bits we have already done, but we need to set ourselves up.”

Meetings between ambulance services will be taking place across the country, and board members further called for better working between fire, police and ambulance services on the findings of the inquiry.