An audience with Professor Keith Willett

NEAS recently played host to the man leading the transformation of the urgent and emergency care services across the NHS, Prof Keith Willett, to show how the Trust is driving change in the North East.

First stop was the Emergency Operations Centre at the Trust’s headquarters, where he was able to see first-hand how dual trained NHS111 and 999 call handlers and a developing Clinical Assessment Service are diverting people away from busy emergency departments and referring them to more specialist NHS services in the community, where it is safe and appropriate to do so. 

Prof Willett then had the opportunity to meet NEAS staff and volunteers before taking to the stage to talk about the challenges facing the NHS and the future of urgent and emergency care nationally, including the new ambulance response standards, which were introduced at NEAS on 30 October.

Explaining his view of the service, Prof Willett said: “The paramedic or ambulance technician is probably the most exposed clinician in the NHS. They are working alone in a non-clinical environment where they don’t know the patient and they are being asked to do the best for the patient with no diagnostics. It’s a big ask and so it’s not surprising that we get big conveyancy rates. The fact that the Clinical Assessment Service can link them up with advice, that’s a real ideal place to do it.

“The big issue, the big proportion shift, is what we do in response to the community. It’s moving from transport to a community treatment service. 

“There’s no better place to understand what the needs of the community are and the response that you need to put in place, than sitting in an ambulance control centre and dispatch. Until you’ve sat there, listened to the calls and watched the resource allocation, then you start to understand the needs of your community and how that hooking up is essential. The ambulance service may not be the biggest provider and may not have the biggest funding behind it but it’s certainly got the best vantage position to understand what’s going on.”

A short video of Prof Willett’s speech is available at vimeo.com/235632126  

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