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Ex-police chief to chair struggling trust

Published on: 10 Jan 2023

A former police chief has been appointed chair of England’s most under-pressure ambulance trust.

Stephen Otter will join South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust this month, following a six-month stint by departing interim chair Gail Bragg.

Mr Otter, who was a non-executive director at Taunton and Somerset FT (now Somerset FT), was previously the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall between 2007 and 2012.

The trust said Mr Otter had “significant experience in driving cultural change and delivering transformational benefits for organisations”.

SWASFT has some of the longest response times for category 2 calls (which cover conditions such as suspected heart attacks and strokes) in England, and is the worst affected ambulance trust for handover delays at hospitals.

In November last year – the latest month for which figures are available – the trust had the third worst response time for category 1 calls (which cover the most serious, life-threatening conditions) and the second worst response time to category 2 calls. 

Mr Otter’s appointment comes as ambulance staff prepare to go on strike tomorrow, with a 24-hour walk-out planned at most of England’s trusts, including SWASFT. This follows on from a strike in late December

According to LinkedIn, Mr Otter is also a technical consultant at Interpeace, an international peacebuilding organisation.