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North East Ambulance Service needs to ensure transparency following NHS review into claims it covered up errors and withheld evidence following deaths

A review commissioned by NHS England has examined allegations that North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) didn’t disclosed key information to families of loved ones who died.

NEAS has since apologised to families following the review into claims it covered up errors by paramedics and withheld evidence from coroners.

The inquiry looked at four cases that occurred over a 12-month period up to December 2019. It found that NEAS had delayed telling coroners about care failings and had omitted key details from reports before disclosing them later on.

The independent review, carried out by Dame Marianne Griffiths, identified inaccuracies in information provided to coroners and that employees were fearful of speaking up about poor behaviour by senior staff.

The review also found opportunities for learning were missed, with established processes not being followed by NEAS. It noted that leadership was dysfunctional and there was antagonism between leadership teams. It made 15 recommendations to NEAS.

Dame Marianne Griffiths paid tribute to the families for sharing their testimonies. She stated it was clear that they were not only devastated by the loss of their loved ones but also by the ambulance service's response to the legitimate questions about their care.

What NEAS has said in response

NEAS said it has now been given a good level of funding to recruit more paramedics and call handlers.

The service has written to the families involved, and said that the 15 recommendations were being actioned at pace.

Meaningful action required to uphold confidence in NEAS

The death of a loved one is always an emotional and distressing time. Families often not only need specialist support to try and come to terms with their loss, but they also deserve to be listened to and any questions they may have answered. 

The review has identified incredibly worrying areas of how NEAS operated. While the service has pledged to take action to improve how it treats families, it’s vital that this pledge is acted upon and meaningful action is taken. While nothing can ever make up for the loss of a loved one, transparency is key to upholding confidence in the NHS.

Other families who may have concerns need to be supported to receive answers  

Others may have further questions and concerns about the care a relative received following the report. If so, it’s vital they receive the care and support they require to establish answers.

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell’s expertise in helping families establish answers and access specialist support following the death of a loved one at our dedicated medical negligence section.

An ambulance service has apologised to families following a review into claims it covered up errors by paramedics and withheld evidence from coroners.

The families of a teenager and a 62-year-old man were not told paramedics' responses were being investigated by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).”