Ambulance chief to retire - weeks after service is branded a 'shambles'

Derek Cartwright is 'retiring' from his role, the ambulance service has confirmed
Derek Cartwright is 'retiring' from his role, the ambulance service has confirmed

Ambulance service chief executive Derek Cartwright is to leave his role, it can be revealed.

His departure was confirmed by the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) this morning, with a full statement expected later.

A spokeswoman said Mr Cartwright is retiring, after around two years in the job, and said he was not doing interviews.

In January, the service was described as a 'shambles' during a debate in Parliament, with one union representative saying the knock-off effect on patients was 'not acceptable' as NWAS came under scrutiny for failing to hit response time targets.

The government’s shadow minister for housing Tony Lloyd claimed not enough ambulances were getting to seriously ill people on time.

In response, NWAS said he was referring to ‘out-of-date’ targets that were not comparable to new measures brought in back in August.

A spokeswoman said: “We are not only monitored by the timeliness of our response, but also a number of clinical outcomes that check the level of care that we give to our patients and for those who perform well.

“It measures our care for patients who have suffered a stroke, heart attack, or cardiac arrest.

“We acknowledge that our performance against the national standards has not been as good as we would like but we would like to assure the public that much is being done to improve this."

In a report last month, Mr Cartwright said the service continued to 'experience significant challenges' around ambulance response times and 999 call pick-up times.

He said NWAS had improved its attendance times for the most seriously ill patients in February and said that, 'although there is some way to go, this improvement is encouraging'.

But he said the service continued to see 'high demand' and, towards the end of the month, 'increasing NHS system pressures' led to delays in handing patients over to staff at A&E departments.

Last year, new standards were brought in, with paramedics expected to reach the most serious emergency cases within an average time of seven minutes, and within 15 minutes nine in 10 times.

In January, NWAS achieved an average response time - in the most serious of cases - of 9:51, the latest figures showed, with a year-to-date figure of 10:06.

A former engineer and part-time firefighter, Mr Cartwright joined the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service in 1986.

He was promoted to leading paramedic in 1990 before working as a trainer.

Five years later, he took a job as shift control manager, before taking over as operations manager in Oldham and Rochdale for two years.

After stints as a general manager and operations boss, Mr Cartwright was appointed area director for Cumbria and Lancashire after NWAS was set up in 2006.

He was promoted to director of emergency services in 2009 before becoming director of operations in November 2012.

In March 2016, he became interim chief executive following the departure of Bob Williams, and given the job on a permanent basis two months later.

Mr Cartwright, who has a Master's degree in business administration, was given the Queen's Ambulance Medal (QAM) in the New Year's Honours list in 2015.

He lives in Bolton with his wife Joanne, has four grown up children, and a grandson..

A lifelong supporter of Bolton Wanderers, he is also a registered bee-keeper and also has chickens.