North East Ambulance Service received approximately £2.2 million of Winter Resilience funding to support the implementation of a range of winter initiatives for 2014/15.
The schemes, which began on or after 1 November 2014, have involved various departments within the organisation and were either completely new or re-introduced, having been implemented as part of previous winter initiatives.
Early evaluation has confirmed that a number of the schemes are delivering the intended benefits.
The extension of the Ambulance Resource Assistant (ARA) role, including the provision of a mobile support service, was welcomed by crews and led to a 15% reduction in downtime – equating to approximately 650 hours – for November-February 2014/15 compared with the same time period in 2013/14.
The re-triaging of NHS 111 ‘green’ ambulance dispositions (covering emergency transport, assistance at home and transport to an Emergency Department) is also having significant impact on our service, with on average 80% of calls being given a reduced urgency or diverted to a more appropriate service, such as providing advice or seeing a primary care clinician.
The extension of the Paramedic Advisory Service (PMAS), which gives paramedics direct access to GP advice, is valued by crews but requires further data collation to assess its impact; this is also the case for the Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officer (HALO) role, although early evaluation indicates it is having some impact on ambulance turnaround times.
Internal processes, capacity and competing ambulance priorities have all affected the success of the End of Life and Mental Health scheme. Learning from this initiative, including feedback from service users, is being collated to inform future service specification requirements.
Following identification of an underspend, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) agreed NEAS could use the money to support additional crews, which were put in place from January until 31 March through the contracting of additional third party resources. A combination of additional double crew and rapid response vehicles have been working primarily within the South Division.
A number of the schemes were extended into April to cover the Easter period and the PMAS will run up to 4 May.
Petrina Smith, Head of Contracting, said: “It is already apparent that service delivery has been proactive and robust across all schemes, with detailed monitoring and regular in-depth reporting.
“More detailed evaluation is currently underway and the final evaluation will inform commissioners’ decisions to determine which schemes should be recurrent in 2015/16.
“Joanne Greenup, Project Manager for the winter pressures project, is keen to hear your feedback. Please contact her via firstname.lastname@example.org.”