Final days to provide feedback on the Emergency Care and Treatment Plan (ECTP)

The Resuscitation Council’s (UK) consultation on the Emergency Care and Treatment Plan (ECTP) closes on Monday. The Resuscitation Council (UK) is giving health professionals the opportunity to provide feedback on the concept of the ECTP and its supporting documents via a survey on their website.

The purpose of an ECTP is to record a summary of decisions about what care and treatment a patient would or would not want to receive, if their health deteriorates and they are unable to make those choices at the time.

The decisions recorded on the form can provide immediate information to guide health professionals who are looking after a patient in an emergency. They may not have met the patient before and may not know full details of the patient’s usual state of health or their wishes. Those professionals may include doctors, nurses and ambulance paramedics. They may be looking after the patient at home, in a hospital, in other places such as a nursing home or hospices, or during a journey by ambulance.

The ECTP aims to ensure that patients receive the best possible treatment for their individual situation. It cannot be used to request or demand treatments that will not be beneficial to them.

This consultation offers paramedics and other pre-hospital professionals an excellent opportunity to voice their views on the ECTP and help shape its future direction. I therefore implore you to take a moment over the next few days to fill in the survey.

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Using technology to tell stories

TechnologyI have become increasingly interested in how technology can be used by journalists to help tell stories. I believe it is an exciting time for journalism, with smart phones offering an array of powerful tools for journalists in the form of high-definition video, a decent camera and the ability to edit on the move. Mobiles allow a level of intimacy that isn’t possible with a camera crew, not to mention it is the one device that is always on you, thus allowing you to capture events as they unfold with ease.

Previously I have only really used my phone for work to provide live coverage of events on social media platforms such as Twitter. However, I am keen to explore the potential of mobile journalism.

Reading through Journalism, Media and Technology Predictions 2016, a document from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism that looks at some of the technology and upcoming trends within the industry, it is interesting to see where experts anticipate the profession to be heading.

There appears to have been an explosion in the use of 360 video and photos following the introduction of products such as Google cardboard, which effectively turns your mobile device into a means to experience virtual reality (VR). Although this is a very simple way of using VR compared to products such as the Oculus Rift, it has allowed VR to be accessible on a mass scale, due to it only costing a few pounds. The technology is still in its relative infancy, but the possibilities in terms of journalism are obvious, as it allows for a means of immersive storytelling that wasn’t possible before. Organisations such as the BBC and New York Times have already had fantastic results.

Additionally, there is a huge array of free or cheap online tools and apps that can be used to enhance and help tell stories, especially if these stories are published online. For example, StoryMapJS is a free tool to help you tell stories by highlighting the locations of a series of events, while TimelineJS enables you to build interactive timelines using Google spreadsheets. The image used in this post was created with Adobe Post, a free app specifically designed to create ‘social graphics’ and spruce up blog posts. These are just a few of the hundreds of tools available to journalists, many of which are free.

As a result of this new found interest of mine I thought it would be fun to keep a blog covering my foray into mobile journalism, as well as experiments using various multimedia tools. I therefore plan to post examples of these tools in action in the hope of improving my overall mobile journalism skills.

Watch this space…

A healthy workforce is a happy workforce: looking after staff with the #StayingWellService

Today the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWAFT) launches its #StayingWellService Campaign, an initiative that will provide further support to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of its staff.

It was announced that the new service will be provided in addition to the various support mechanisms already available to staff, such as debriefings following challenging incidents. Additionally, staff will be able to use the service for problems and issues stemming from their personal life, as well as situations occurring at work which are adversely affecting them.

Some of the more common mental and physical issues encountered by ambulance staff include: stress, anxiety, financial concerns, drug or alcohol problems, physical injuries and domestic violence.

Paramedics, by the very nature of the work they do, are often exposed to traumatic and disturbing events, and so mental health problems arising from stress are commonplace. Increased demand for 999 services has also contributed to the mental wellbeing of paramedics, as staff are forced to go from one job to the next with little time to reflect and recover. Both the number of paramedics on stress-related leave and the amount of time taken have increased dramatically in the last 3 years. According to The Guardian, paramedics in England took a total of 41,243 days off in 2014 as a result of stress-related illnesses.

SWASFT report that in the few hours since its launch, staff have already been accessing the service. It is arguable, therefore, that initiatives such as this should be rolled out UK-wide, as it is questionable whether enough is being done to to support the current ambulance workforce. Anxiety, stress and depression often top the list of reasons for staff-related absence. By focusing on the existing workforce, it can go some way to alleviate pressures facing the service. Ensuring staff are fit to work is essential, so additional services such as this are sorely needed.