It’s been a challenging winter for the NHS, particularly for all those services working in the urgent and emergency care environment, including NEAS.
To support the North East health economy, the Trust has used third party providers to top up its resources. As a result, it has deployed up to 32,200 hours of emergency and urgent ambulance cover each week. This is in excess of 102% of the scheduled resource cover to support patients and the NHS through a difficult winter period.
The number of 999 calls to the ambulance service rose by a third in the two weeks covering Christmas and New Year, putting enormous pressure on paramedic crews, call-handlers and patient transport crews.
Extra clinicians in the 999 operations centre helped to assess these calls to ensure only those patients who need an ambulance received one. Despite this, NEAS attended an average 100 more incidents per day than usual.
Reflecting the system-wide pressure felt across the region, the number of handover delays at hospital also increased between Christmas and New Year, with a total of 15 days lost over the two-week festive period; an equivalent of 30 12-hour ambulance shifts.
Paul Liversidge, Chief Operating Officer at North East Ambulance Service, said: “We experienced unprecedented demand and the additional pressures across the wider NHS network. Nevertheless, our ambulance crews still managed to get to an average 370 of Red incidents per day within the eight minute standard. This performance is consistent with response times over the past four years, although the higher number of potentially life-threatening incidents has meant the performance in December was 53% in eight minutes against a national standard of 75%.
“We start 2017 with the findings of a report from the Emergency Care Intensive Support Team (ECIST), which seeks to address this significant challenge to the system-wide performance by working in collaboration with our commissioners and hospitals.”