South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS FT – relocation to new headquarters

The challenge

The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) employs 3,300 staff providing 999, 111 and patient transport services across the South East of England.

SECAmb had an ambitious plan to establish a new Headquarters and an Emergency Operations Centre in Crawley (EOC) in June 2017. The new centre would bring together some 250 frontline and support staff from a number of locations across the south east into the new centre.

The move presented significant operational risk in SECAmb. Following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in September 2016, SECAmb was placed in ‘special measures’ by NHS Improvement (NHSI) and the successful transfer of staff and services to the new location was seen as a key enabler for the delivery of several business-critical strategic objectives for SECAmb and to support the implementation of the improvements recommended by the CQC.

The challenge was in transferring posts, whilst maintaining safe service by maximising retention of trained staff – specifically with two thirds of the posts relocated being EOC staff. For the remaining (support staff) posts there was a greater emphasis on using the transfer to explore new ways of working across the various functions to improve performance and deliver efficiencies. For all staff and management, transfer to the new location required the adoption of a shared culture and common set of working practices.

The result

  • With Ignite’s support the move developed real momentum and achieved the target date of April 2017 – safely and efficiently with minimal business disruption.
  • Effective management of practical engagement and communications to the full range of stakeholders – ensuring people were motivated and committed to move into the new environment. This also included the establishment of a user forum to address any critical post move issues.
  • Development of the tools needed to manage relocation, communication and change management – supporting the process of building internal capability within SECAmb.

What made it successful

  • Working closely with the SECAmb move team to ensure that all aspects of the move had been thought through to ensure there was a robust project delivery and move plan in place.
  • Tailored pre-move communications for each group of staff that set out the practicalities of the move, what they needed to do and what they could expect.
  • Ignite responded to SECAMB’s stretched internal resources and adopted a pragmatic, hands on approach to ensure that the building was ready for staff to move in and be productive from Day One.

The Trust has been undergoing a significant amount of major transformation and change and by partnering with Ignite they were able to offer us tailored dedicated specialist support. This expertise allowed us to successfully deliver a major Ambulance Control and Headquarters estates move and at the same time put in place a culture change programme that met the needs of the Trust. The team at Ignite were excellent to work with and very professional.

Daren Mochrie

Chief Executive, South East Coast Ambulance Service