North East Ambulance Service is in the process of building up its Clinical Assessment Centre (CAS) in a bid to increase care in the community and reduce pressure on emergency departments.
The CAS is made up of a team of professionals, including paramedics, nurses, GPs and advanced practitioners, who work together to provide enhanced clinical support to call handlers and patients calling NHS111.
Its operational hours vary depending on the types of calls it supports but its core hours run from 6pm-10pm Monday-Friday and 8am-8am weekends and Bank Holidays.
The CAS currently support patients who reach a disposition to self-present at an emergency department or to speak to a primary care service.
Where someone is advised to self-present at an emergency department, a GP or advanced practitioner will call them back and carry out an enhanced clinical assessment over the telephone.
Approximately 500 of these types of calls are passed to the CAS each month for assessment, of which around 80% are treated and discharged or referred to a less urgent service in the community, thereby reducing pressures on emergency departments.
The CAS also supports patients who are in mental health crisis. These patients are now transferred to their localcrisis team at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust to improve the timeliness of patient care and enhance their experience. Currently around 130 patients a month are being transferred to the crisis teams in this way.
The CAS also manages a range of ‘speak to primary care service’ dispositions. Approximately 33% of these calls are being managed over the phone with telephone advice for those patients who would otherwise have been booked into an urgent care centre or GP out of hours provider.
We are now working on expanding the CAS further to include dental calls and pharmacy advice.
Dr Mathew Beattie, NEAS medical director, said: “We are constantly looking at ways of improving and expanding this service and hope the North East Integrated Urgent Care Alliance can be the vehicle through which we can collaborate with service providers across the region
“We believe that this initiative will support the sustainability of the whole North East health economy. We are very excited about the opportunities this development will bring, for NEAS, for our IUCA partners, for the whole urgent care system, and most importantly, for our patients.”