New urgent care pilot grows from Sunderland trial

A new project which aims to map out urgent care pathways across the North East launched at the beginning of October.

The Urgent Care Pathway Development Project has grown from the success of North East Ambulance Service’s Paramedic Pathfinder trial, which has helped more than 2,000 patients avoid lengthy A&E delays since its launch in September 2016 by successfully referring to alternative care providers such as GPs, urgent care centres and the Recovery at Home team.

Paramedic Pathfinder trained North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) clinicians to use a ground-breaking clinical triage tool to help choose the most appropriate place for treatment and reduce avoidable admissions to hospital through emergency departments.

Now, following its success, NEAS has developed the Urgent Care Pathway Development Project to map out urgent care pathways, such as GPs, out of hours providers, minor injury units, treatment centres and pharmacies, across more areas in the region.

Three paramedics, Iain Lawson, Sam Birchall and Emma Stanton, have joined project lead Mike Simpson, who ran the Pathfinder trial, on a one-year secondment to see the project through.

With more than 50 years’ combined clinical experience, together they will run a seven-day service on a rota basis, liaising with the region’s care providers and clinical commissioning groups to discuss current and new care pathways whilst also training more NEAS clinicians to use the triage tool.

Mike said: “Ambulance services are now a key provider of urgent as well as emergency care, and our workforce, pathways and clinical support are adapting to meet these challenges. Many of the patients that call 999 for an ambulance can be managed safely and effectively within a community or none emergency department setting.

“By building on the success of the Sunderland pilot, our aim is to offer alternative pathways to all of our operational staff and one of the key aspects of our work will be to seek feedback from them to understand the challenges they currently face in making referrals.

“By working in partnership with new and existing care providers and commissioners, we can identify services suitable for our clinicians to make direct referrals, thereby reducing the strain on our emergency departments, whilst improving patient experience by offering more personalised care.”

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