Welcome to the December edition of Ambulance Matters

Hello, and a post-election welcome to the latest news from the Trust.

It is exactly three months since I took over as the Chief Executive.  What has struck me more than anything else in that time, is the wonderful commitment and determination of our staff to help, support and treat the people in the region.  They can be rightly proud of the service they provide day in and day out.

As a Trust, we are always looking at new ways that we can deliver our services and elsewhere in this Ambulance Matters there are some great examples of innovative schemes. I know there will be many more of these and if you have local examples please do share them for our future editions.

We are particularly proud that we are the world champions for trauma care.  A team from the Trust was crowned best in the world in a gruelling 10-hour exercise at the recent International Trauma Life Support (ITLS) annual conference in America.

We are now entering our most challenging period and already we have seen the impact of winter on our ability to deliver services in a timely manner. At this most challenging time of the year for the NHS I want you to know that we have been working hard with colleagues across the region - including the integrated care system and CCGs, we have secured increased funding to help us manage over his crucial time  and I hope this will alleviate some of the pressure I know you are feeling across our patient facing services

On the staffing front, a new roster for frontline staff to allow us to deploy ambulance resources more efficiently so they match demand across the region is still being bedded in. I know this hasn’t been without its challenges and I wanted to thank our teams for continuing to work to settle this in. This change will take time but I hope will result in more resource when we need it most. Alongside this it is important that we push hard with our recruitment campaign, we have 37 new student paramedics in post and we are also increasing the number of clinicians in the operations centre to reduce the number of patients who need an ambulance. This is great but we also need to fill our gaps for clinical care assistants and paramedics and this work is ongoing. 

We also have a few discharge vehicles so that patients can leave hospital on the same day – freeing up much-needed beds.  With hospitals, like us, experiencing unusually high levels of demand, patient handover times are an issue for both ourselves and colleagues at our hospital trusts and the more we can aid timely discharge the better flow can be. We are also asking our acute hospital colleagues to do all they can to get our teams released back onto the road. It is a difficult balance for all of us.

As we often do in winter, we are increasing our frontline capacity with support from St John Ambulance and British Red Cross to help with the anticipated increase in demand because of norovirus, and flu-related illnesses and we have had investment to extend the hours of the alcohol reception centre in Newcastle, Safe Haven, over the festive period to manage alcohol-related incidents directly, without patients having to go to hospital.

Even with this added capacity we know things are going to be tight and we will be keeping the situation under constant review over the coming weeks and months. I want out staff to look after themselves and each other during this time.

And finally, congratulations to our Members of Parliament who were successful in this month’s General Election.  No doubt you will have a lot on your plate, but if you would like to meet up to discuss the issues facing the ambulance service, please contact mark.cotton@neas.nhs.uk and I would be happy to meet you.

Helen Ray

Chief Executive

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

Other stories in this issue...

Berwick community paramedics scheme extended

Berwick community paramedics scheme extended

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World champions – NEAS at the forefront of trauma care for patients

World champions – NEAS at the forefront of trauma care for patients

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Teesside Medicar scheme extended

Teesside Medicar scheme extended

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Prevention better than cure

Prevention better than cure

Read More