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Patient Transport Services Update

Please see below the latest update about transport services for patients.

 

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) continues to follow government guidance to ensure that the NHS can support people who need to go to hospital. We are providing transport safely and swiftly during the COVID-19 pandemic, for those who need to attend appointments because of a life-threatening condition. Patients calling 999 for an emergency ambulance will be provided with a face mask, unless this compromises their care; for example, when being given oxygen.

For non-emergency transport to hospital appointments or clinics, patients need to play their part by using their own face covering, over their mouth, nose and chin when on-board our ambulance. The hospital or clinic may also provide a face mask before you leave for your ambulance journey home. Please do not remove it unless asked by our staff. Patients can also help by washing their hands for at least 20 second before leaving their home or hospital to get into an ambulance.

Currently, our transport services are prioritised for the following patients:

  • Patients who have been discharged and need to be transported from one care setting to another, or home, if there is no alternative means of transport.
  • Patients suspected of having COVID-19 who need to attend ongoing care appointments and have no access to private travel.
  • Patients with life-sustaining care needs who need to attend a care setting, such as for dialysis, and have no access to private travel.
  • Patients defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 who need to attend ongoing care appointments and have no access to private travel.
    • High risk patients include organ transplant recipients and people with specific cancers, severe respiratory conditions, rare diseases and those on immunosuppression therapies, and women who are pregnant and have significant congenital heart disease.
    • A detailed list is available on the gov.uk website.

 

Patient Safety and Staff Wellbeing

To minimise the risk of infection, staff and volunteers supporting the transport of patients with confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 are following NHS guidance on use of personal protective equipment and decontamination of vehicles. Non-essential persons are not able to travel with a patient. This includes family members and relatives of patients, unless they are also acting as carer. Parents or guardians must accompany children under 18.

 

Attending non-essential appointments

When NEAS receives a booking for patient transport, we only know the destination clinic and not the treatment the patient is receiving. This means when a patient contacts NEAS to book transport, if their clinic is not on the essential clinic list, we can only direct the patient back to the hospital. A list of essential treatments is listed on the gov.uk website.

The hospital is the arbitrator of a patient’s need for transport as they will be aware of the patient’s treatment and condition. Any patient requesting transport not going to a listed essential clinic will be referred to the hospital for their consideration as to whether transport should be provided. In these circumstances, the hospital will contact us directly.

This arrangement has been working well. We have been able to accommodate all the additional transport requests made by hospitals up to now.

Resuming transport to non-essential appointments in the future

Social distancing guidelines do not allow us to carry more than one patient on board an ambulance. This has significantly reduced the capacity we have to carry patients and means we are not able to resume all our services now. We are working with all the hospitals and clinical commissioning groups in the North East region to plan how we can extend our services beyond the current list of prioritised patients. Please contact your clinic or hospital to discuss transport in the first instance.

Stroke – Act F.A.S.T.

You could save your own or someone else’s life, or help limit the long-term effects of stroke, by learning to think and Act F.A.S.T. F.A.S.T. or Face-Arms-Speech-Time is easy to remember and will help you to recognise if you or someone else is having a stroke.

 

Face – Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

Arms – Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech  – Is their speech slurred?

Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs of a stroke.

 

There are also other symptoms that may occasionally be due to stroke. They include:

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of your body (including your leg)
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms

Why Act F.A.S.T?

If you notice any single one of the signs of stroke, call 999. The faster you act, the better the chance of recovery. Find out more from NHS Choices.

Emergency Ambulance

Ambulance Services to Care Homes in Northumberland

Across its operational area in 2015/16 North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) attended 14,484 emergency incidents with the location flagged as being a care home.  During the first six months of the year, there was an average of 38 incidents per day, rising to an average of 41 per day in the latter half of the year. There were 30 care homes that NEAS were called upon to attend on 90 or more occasions in 2015/16.  Of those, ten accounted for over 9% of the total care home activity that year. One care home in Northumberland made this list.

While this showed that Northumberland based care homes made only a small call on NEAS emergency services, from feedback we understood that some care homes were concerned about the length of time they have had to wait for an emergency ambulance to attend for their residents.

Between September 2016 and January 2017, Healthwatch Northumberland took a closer look at the issue. We specifically wanted to know the extent of the issues and understand what the ramifications could be for residents and the operation of the care homes.

Read the full report.