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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.

Ambulance Service launches Video Technology

Patients will soon be able to speak to ambulance service clinicians via video thanks to new technology being introduced by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

NEAS is making use of Attend Anywhere software to allow ambulance staff working in the community to seek advice from clinicians working within the Emergency Operations Centre via video link. This will also be used to speak to patients who require advice but may not need an ambulance to attend to them. Building on this, the service will then be expanded to the wider health system, including care homes.

The new system is one of 17 projects which NEAS has been working on since being chosen as one of three ambulance services to join the national Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme back in 2018.

Video conferencing will be rolled out at NEAS in the following ways:

Clinical advice for staff – newly qualified paramedics will be able to use the facilities to speak to specialist paramedics for clinical advice and reassurance whilst on scene with a patient who they think can be safely left at home without needing to travel to hospital. This support was previously carried out as a telephone conversation, relying heavily on vocal descriptions; using video instead will allow staff to use visual cues in their clinical decision making.

Patient support – after going through the triage system on either NHS111 or 999, patients who need to speak to a clinician may be given a secure link via text message or email, which will take them through to a video call on their smart phone, computer or tablet.

Specialist support – the system also has the potential to be used by other specialists, such as the NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team and Great North Air Ambulance, to see whether their services are required on scene, ensuring their specialist skills are reserved for patients who need them most.

Paul Aitken-Fell, lead consultant paramedic at NEAS, said “As the regional ambulance service, NEAS forms a critical part of the care process, bridging primary, secondary and acute care. We only touch patients for a short period of time, with little knowledge of their medical history but often in their most desperate times of need. It is therefore vital that we ensure we are informed as much as possible when we are needed.

“The initiatives we are pursuing through this programme, such as video consultation, are helping us to make better use of technology to improve the care and treatment decisions our clinicians make for our patients.

“In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that we are able to offer ways of being able to keep patients safely at home and reduce unnecessary ambulance attendances and referrals to hospital and other providers.

“One of the hardest jobs for a clinician working within our Emergency Operations Centre is the inability to see a patient and therefore having to rely on what they are being told over the phone. This inevitably means that they sometimes have no choice but to dispatch an ambulance just to get a pair of eyes on a patient and make sure they’re ok.

“The ability to see patients face to face via video consultations therefore means we can potentially reduce ambulance callouts, freeing up our clinicians to see more patients. We believe it may also mean we see a reduction in referrals to other providers, thereby freeing up appointments in the wider system and reducing the wait for people who need those physical appointments. And, for our newly qualified paramedics, it means they will have improved access to clinical support to help them deliver high quality care for every contact whilst also reducing unnecessary hospital admissions.”

The aim of the GDE programme is to join up and digitalise health systems to provide clinicians with more timely access to accurate information and support service change, thereby improving patient care.

NEAS was chosen to join the GDE programme in recognition of its track record of digital delivery, which included being the first ambulance trust to deliver NHS111 services, being the first ambulance trust to roll out airwave radio and communications system service wide and being the first NHS111 provider to deliver region wide electronic GP bookings.

Other projects which have either been completed or are in the process of being implemented as part of the GDE programme, include:

  • Developing a common message to allow ambulance systems to digitally pass patient information to hospital systems supporting the transfer of care process;
  • Creating a central directory which provides NHS providers with real time information about services available to support a patient;
  • Capturing a patient’s NHS number as part of their 999 call, without delaying treatment to the patient, to provide clinicians with access to additional information relating to the patient’s previous symptoms and treatments and to transfer information to other services, such as GPs following an ambulance call-out;
  • Developing simulation software to identify the impact of system changes, both internally and externally, to ensure resources match the needs of the service;
  • Developing a messaging and collaboration platform for informing ambulance staff about their compliance with best practice and informing them of changes;
  • Introducing barcode tracking to better manage medicine and stocks on vehicles.
Work for the NHS

Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic NHS Recruitment Event

If you’d like to find out more about working in the NHS, head to the Royal Victoria Infirmary for this recruitment event. The NHS is committed to making workplaces inclusive and is taking positive action to increase Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic representation in the workforce.

Whether you come along for a few minutes or longer you will have the opportunity to speak to staff, view current vacancies, learn how to set up for job alerts, learn how to complete a good application form and find out about volunteering opportunties. Staff representatives from all local NHS Trusts will be on hand to answer all of your questions.

Workshops will be available throughout the day:

  • Introduction to roles in the NHS and the recruitment process
  • Introduction to NHS jobs
  • Completing an NHS Jobs Application Form
  • Interview Skills Preparation.

The event takes place at The Royal Victoria Infirmary (New Education Centre), Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP on Saturday 27 April, from 10.00am until 3.00pm.

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM

Thanks to everyone who attended our AGM 2017

The fourth Healthwatch Northumberland AGM which took place on Wednesday 11 October at Stannington Village Hall was attended by over 70 people. The event saw partners and local organisations come together with supporters and other members of the public to review the year of work 2016/17. Former Chair of the Board, Cynthia Atkin, was thanked by current Chair, David Thompson, for her work over the year and since the inception of Healthwatch Northumberland, and was presented with a bouquet of flowers.

Derry Nugent, Project Coordinator, gave a presentation reviewing the last 12 months, and outlining the strategic priorities for Healthwatch for the coming year and beyond.

Special guest speakers were Graham Tebbutt and Barry Dews from North East Ambulance Service, who presented on the new ambulance response times which take effect this month, and how these will affect the people of Northumberland. Many questions were raised by the audience on this interesting and important topic; more information on the standards can be found here.

A marketplace of information stands from local organisations provided support and advice for guests of the meeting; they were: Carers Northumberland, Age UK Northumberland, Northumberland County Blind Association, PALS, Northumberland CVA, Independent Advocacy and Complaints Services, Ageing Well Allies and Northumberland Cancer Support Group.

David Thompson, Chair, says; ” All in all, this was a well attended and illuminating AGM with thanks due to the many stall holders who were able to display and talk about the varied services which they offer to the wider community.  Importantly, the event also presented an opportunity for members of the public to raise issues of general concern to Healthwatch Northumberland staff and board members. This is what we are all about – listening to what people have to say about their health and care services and then responding in the most appropriate way to councillors, commissioners and providers. And that is what we shall continue to do during the remainder of this year, and beyond.”

Our new satisfaction survey was launched at the event and those who completed it were entered into a free prize draw to win a fruit basket, supplied by Fresh n Thyme Mobile Fruits and Vegetables. The basket was won by Liz Johnston of Northumberland Cancer Support Group.

The Healthwatch Northumberland AGM was filmed by Hexham TV and can be viewed on its Facebook page. Minutes of the meeting will be available here on the website shortly. Thanks go to everyone who came along and helped make the day a success.

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM 2017: You’re Invited

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM 2017 will take place on Wednesday 11 October at Stannington Village Hall in Stannington, Morpeth, 10.30am – 1.00pm, where our guest speaker will be a senior member of staff from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). The presentation will include information on the new ambulance response standards; what it means for you and for the residents of Northumberland as a whole. Plus there will be a chance to ask questions afterwards. If you have a question for NEAS please email it through to us at: info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk.

This will also be an opportunity to hear about our strategic plan for the year, what we have acheived in the past year and to give your feedback on the work we are doing to help put people at the heart of care in Northumberland.

A complimentary lunch and refreshments will be provided for all attendees of the meeting and there will be a small marketplace of local organisations and support groups, giving information and advice on the services they provide. Confirmed are: Carers Northumberland, Northumberland County Blind Association, Northumberland CVA, ICAN Advocacy Service, Northumberland Cancer Support Group, Ageing Well Network and PALS.

If you would like to attend the Healthwatch Northumberland AGM please let us know in advance by emailing: info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or calling us on: 03332 408468 before 4 October 2017. Please include any access, transport and dietary requirements you may have.

North East Ambulance Service staff

New specialist service for terminally ill patients

North East Ambulance Service to create dedicated end of life service

A specialist ambulance service will soon be available to ensure the wishes of terminally ill patients in the North East are respected.

The new partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) aims to address problems which have been highlighted across the UK around the quality of care and support for patients at the end of their lives.

The Macmillan Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Service, which is believed to be the first of its kind across the north and only the second in the UK, is set to launch at the start of 2018.

Macmillan has invested £350,000 funding over a three-year period, to enable NEAS to recruit three new roles: a Macmillan Nurse Facilitator, a Macmillan Engagement Officer and an admin support role.

Working from within the operations centre at NEAS, they will be tasked with equipping ambulance staff with the specialist skills necessary to support terminally ill patients and the people around them, whether that be on an emergency 999 call, a NHS 111 call or as part of a scheduled ambulance transport service.

The dedicated Macmillan team will also work with other healthcare and social care providers throughout the north east to ensure patients’ care plans are fed into the system so their wishes can be respected throughout the process.

As well as providing better patient care, it is hoped this service will mean more patients can continue to be cared for at home and prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital.

Tina Thompson, Macmillan Partnership Manager in the North East, says: “End of life care is a major issue and it’s something Macmillan has campaigned about and called on the government to make a priority. Our research has highlighted numerous issues around the UK, such as people with cancer not being able to die at home, or not receiving adequate pain relief. These problems can be addressed when staff are given specialist care skills to provide excellent support for people at the end of their lives, and those around them. We’re really pleased to have linked up with the North East Ambulance Service and are confident this work will make a huge difference to people with cancer.”

Recruitment of the team will begin in the autumn. The new service expands on the work already undertaken to improve end of life services for North East patients, which has included a successful end of life transport scheme, which allows healthcare professionals to arrange transportation for patients to be able to die in a place of their choosing.

 

 

Money from Macmillan used to fund the new staff at NEAS has been raised thanks to donations from the public. To get involved with fundraising for Macmillan in the North East, call Macmillan’s fundraising support centre on 0300 1000 200 or email fundraising@macmillan.org.uk.

Find out more

Events

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM – you’re invited!

Healthwatch Northumberland AGM 2017 is a free event, open to the public. The event will take place at Stannington Village Hall in Stannington, Morpeth, where our guest speaker will be a senior member of staff from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS). The presentation will include information on the new ambulance response standards; what it means for you and for the residents of Northumberland as a whole. Plus there will be a chance to ask questions afterwards. If you have a question for NEAS please email it through to us at: info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk.

This will also be an opportunity to hear about our strategic plan for the year, what we have achieved in the past year and to give your feedback on the work we are doing to help put people at the heart of care in Northumberland.

A complimentary lunch and refreshments will be provided for all attendees of the meeting and there will be a small marketplace of information stands from local organisations and support groups, giving information and advice on the services they provide.

If you would like to attend the Healthwatch Northumberland AGM please let us know in advance by emailing: info@healthwatchnorthumberland.co.uk or calling us on: 03332 408468 before 4th October 2017. Please include any access, transport and dietary requirements you may have.