Survey reveals patients in East of England are satisfied with ambulance care received

Latest ambulance patient satisfaction figures from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) reveal almost 100% of patients are happy with the care given to them.

Patients across the region were asked about how EEAST cared for them, with 99.1% responding they were very satisfied or satisfied with the overall level of service they received.

The survey, carried out in July, also revealed that 99.1% of patients believed the staff they came into contact with were very professional, and 100% said they were treated with dignity and respect.

Almost 96% felt their call was handled either acceptably or very acceptably, and 90% felt the same for the time they waited for a response. However, within Essex, 13.3% of respondents felt the way their call was handled was unacceptable and 6.7% very unacceptable. Additionally, 7.7% of patients in Essex believed the time waited for a response was unacceptable and 7.7% very unacceptable.

Chief Executive, Robert Morton, said:

‘Each and every day my colleagues demonstrate the best that we could wish for, including their ongoing commitment to provide safe and effective services to the community.’

Generally the comments in the survey from patients were positive. One patient said: ‘This showed the NHS at its best when needed.’

Another said: ‘I have always experienced the ambulance service to be extremely professional, always in control, know exactly what needs to be done and above all else, always put the patient at ease; a job well done on every occasion.’

However, not all respondents felt the same way. One woman, recalling the treatment her husband received, said:

‘The ambulance person did not have sufficient dressings in his case, we had to supply some of our own. Also we waited nearly 45 minutes for someone to arrive, even though the operator was informed my husband was taking warfarin and was bleeding profusely.’

Another disagreed with the professional manner of the staff:

‘The man that came out to see me made a comment that was very unnecessary.’

He added: ‘The comments we have received from patients show that we are constantly striving to improve the service which is already of a very high standard. I would also like to thank everyone for taking the time to give us feedback; these surveys help us build a better ambulance service for the future.’

Elsewhere in the survey, 5.1% of respondents did not feel involved in decisions regarding their care, and 2.3% said their journey in the ambulance was uncomfortable.

Patients within the East of England are surveyed each month by the Patient Experience Team. Out of 375 patient experience surveys issued for the month of July, 117 individuals responded. Questions covered what medical care contact patients had before calling 999, the level of dignity and respect they were treated with, cleanliness, and privacy.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 22 October 2015.

AACE outlines future vision for the ambulance service

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) has published a report outlining the English ambulance sector’s vision for 2020 and beyond, and the steps that are required to ensure that it is realised.

It presents a vision of the ambulance service as a mobile healthcare provider with roles including navigation, coordination, diagnostics, treatment and transport. It also describes an extended range of settings within which care is offered and the range of services available.

It offers a new model of care—enabled by technological development—increasing the use of tele-healthcare, and sees an increased number of advanced paramedics working alongside paramedics fully integrated into a multi-disciplinary urgent care team.

The report proposes an enhanced clinical decision-making role for paramedics, supporting the delivery of care closer to home and within the community. This is in line with NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which outlined areas where imminent change within the NHS is imperative, specifically in respect of demand, efficiency and funding.

It goes on to argue that the Urgent and Emergency Care Review has presented the ambulance sector with an ideal opportunity to reposition itself as a pivotal urgent and emergency care provider, calling for the sector to broaden its prevention role and urgent care focus, becoming the gateway to urgent care provision via 999 and 111.

In order to realise this vision, the report says that technology must be embraced to facilitate improvements across emergency and urgent care wherever reliable, sound solutions are available that stand to benefit patients. Also, it outlines that the paramedic workforce must be developed and equipped with high-quality urgent care skills to ensure its integral role within the multi-disciplinary team.

AACE has called on staff as a key enabler in nurturing the perception of the ambulance service as a mobile healthcare provider and a key partner in designing new services.

According to AACE, the document has been informed by extensive consultation within the sector and with key stakeholders, and in response to the current healthcare policy and economic contexts.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 22 October 2015.

NHS enlists help of fire service to reduce winter pressures

The NHS has sought the help of the fire service in a new health partnership aimed at tackling health and social problems and reducing winter pressures.

NHS England, Public Health England, the Fire and Rescue Service, Age UK and the Local Government Association have signed a consensus agreeing to work together to prevent or minimise service demand, and improve the quality of life of people suffering from long-term conditions.

The fire service currently carries out 670,000 home safety checks each year, assessing the homes of the vulnerable and offering advice on how to make them safer.

The consensus will enable firefighters across the country to carry out more ‘safe and well’ checks in people’s homes when they visit. As well as reducing the risks of a fire, the ‘safe and well’ checks will aim to reduce health risks such as falls, loneliness and isolation and therefore reduce visits to A&E, broken hips and depression.

Simon Stevens, NHS England CEO, said:

‘Fire service home visits already prevent fires, and now will help prevent falls, accidents and trips to casualty.’

‘It’s great to see two of the most trusted public services getting creative about jointly supporting vulnerable people to stay healthy and independent,’ he added.

Paul Hancock, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association, said:

‘By working in partnership with health professionals we can help to protect some of our most vulnerable residents, while improving people’s quality of life.’

He added: ‘The Safe and Well checks will help to identify issues at an early stage, which could reduce the likelihood of older people being admitted to hospital by focusing on prevention measures. Firefighters carrying out these checks already have a high level of trust from the people they are visiting and will be able to give help and advice on a wide range of issues, while helping to keep our older residents safer.’

The consensus was launched on national Older People’s Day on 1 October at a World Health Organization conference.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 22 October 2015.

Ambulance services run up £6 million deficit for first quarter

Ambulance services in England have run up a £6 million deficit for the first 3 months of the 2015–16 financial year.

According to figures published by Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, four NHS Ambulance Trusts and four NHS Ambulance Foundation Trusts are in deficit.

These figures form part of the wider combined deficit of £930 million for the 151 Foundation Trusts and 90 other NHS Trusts and in England, which is more than the entire full-year deficit for 2014–15 of £829 million.

Foundation Trusts ended the first quarter with a deficit of £445 million, which was £90 million worse than planned. NHS Trusts were revealed to be £485 million in deficit, which was £63 million worse than anticipated.

David Bennett, chief executive of Monitor, said:

‘Today figures reiterate the sector is under massive pressure and must change to counter it.’

He added: ‘The NHS simply can no longer afford operationally and financially to operate in the way it has been and must act now to deliver the substantial efficiency gains required.’

Richard Murray, Director of Policy at The King’s Fund, said:

‘These figures confirm that NHS providers are heading towards an unprecedented end of year deficit.

‘The reported overspend of £930 million at the end of the first quarter is more than the deficit for the whole of last year. This reflects a very sharp deterioration in financial performance among all types of providers, with 96% of acute trusts and more than half of mental health trusts now reporting deficits.

‘On this basis, warnings of a deficit of at least £2 billion by the end of the year are well-founded.’

He added: ‘Unless emergency funding is announced in the forthcoming Spending Review, a rapid and serious decline in patient care is inevitable.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 22 October 2015.

London Ambulance Service to recruit more Australian paramedics

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust (LAS) is set to return to Australia in September to recruit additional paramedics, after making employment offers to 393 paramedics during previous visits in September 2014 and March 2015.

A team of recruitment and operational staff from LAS will interview and assess approximately 200 experienced paramedics or paramedics who will have recently graduated.

LAS will be in Sydney between Monday 7 September and Friday 11 September at The Westin Hotel, 1 Martin Place, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) 2000 and Melbourne between Monday 14 September and Friday 18 September at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre, 2 Clarendon Street, South Wharf, Melbourne.

The emphasis of this forthcoming campaign is to specifically target qualified, experienced paramedics, or those who will be qualified by the end of 2015.

Karen Broughton, LAS director of transformation, strategy and workforce, said: ‘If you’re a qualified paramedic or will be qualified by the end of 2015, we would love to see you. Please sign up for our assessment days and find out about working for the world’s busiest ambulance service.

‘The Australian paramedics that we’ve already recruited are doing a fantastic job and form a crucial part of our workforce. They’re extremely enthusiastic, have a great work ethic and are keen to progress, which is why we’re going back to recruit more. They are really enjoying London and all that the city has to offer.

‘As well as recruiting from the UK, we’re recruiting Australian paramedics because their skills closely match those of our paramedics here. To support them in taking up their new jobs in London we provide a three-week familiarisation course and driver training, so that they have all they need before beginning work with us.’

More paramedics are needed in London due to year-on-year increases in demand and a national shortage of paramedics making it difficult to recruit within the UK.

While LAS is working with universities to increase paramedic places on courses, and training paramedics in-house, more are needed to bridge the gap until these are qualified.

The team will also visit universities and hold opening evenings in Sydney and Melbourne to urge experienced and graduating paramedic graduates to consider a career with LAS.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 19 August 2015.

New NHS England monthly data gives ‘clearer and more comprehensive picture of current operational performance of the NHS’

NHS England has published its first set of monthly data covering key areas of urgent and emergency care, cancer treatment and patient waiting times.

This follows a recommendation from Sir Bruce Keogh to NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens in a letter published in June entitled ‘making waiting times work for patients’.

NHS England’s national medical director recommended that we ‘standardise reporting arrangements so that performance statistics for A&E, Referral to Treatment Times, cancer, diagnostics, ambulances, NHS 111 and delayed transfers of care all be published on one day each month.’

As the first set of monthly data was published, Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations for NHS England, said: ‘This information gives us a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the current operational performance of the NHS than has ever been presented before.

‘It shows high performance levels across the country, in the face of growing demand for care treatments as a result of our growing and ageing population. And with the NHS providing new and innovative treatment, more people are living longer than ever before with complex conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

‘Across the board the data shows increased pressures: ambulance journeys up 7.9% year-on-year, emergency admissions up 2.7%, and diagnostic tests up 5.9%, all supported by a resilient NHS with remarkable frontline staff.

‘It also underlines the need for redesigned services as set out in the NHS’ Five Year Forward View.

‘And having recently published the report of the independent cancer taskforce, we plan to take comprehensive action on cancer care, improving survival rates and saving thousands more lives.

‘In the last five years the number of cancer referrals has leapt by 645,000 or 71%, meaning GPs are increasingly spotting the warning signs early and referring people for tests. We are diagnosing and treating more people than ever before and, as a result, more people than ever are surviving cancer. We continue to treat the vast majority of patients within a month, whether that’s surgery, radiotherapy or drugs.

‘As these statistics and new performance standards demonstrate, throughout the NHS patients are getting better care than ever before, and they are getting it when they need it and where they need it.’

The data, which contains performance statistics for June 2015, can be viewed at:

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 19 August 2015.

New chief executive for East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has announced that Robert Morton has been appointed as its new chief executive.

Morton, a paramedic and a community first responder, has worked in the ambulance service for nearly 25 years, predominantly with the National Ambulance Service in Ireland where he eventually became chief executive for three years. He then went on to be chief executive of the South Australian Ambulance Service.

Morton said: ‘I am thrilled to be the new chief executive and very much look forward to working with my new EEAST colleagues. The service has been through some very difficult and challenging times over the last few years, but I am confident we can build on the good work that Anthony Marsh has put in place to further improve our services for patients and at the same time make this a even better place to work.’

Morton added: ‘Having worked in the ambulance service for many, many years I understand the challenges and issues and how we can resolve them together. Whilst it is not going to be easy, I know first-hand the commitment and dedication of those working in the ambulance service and that together we can make a real difference for patients.’

Trust chair, Sarah Boulton, said: ‘I am delighted Robert is going to lead our Trust as we look to make further improvements to the service we give to patients. Robert is an experienced ambulance chief executive who will be able to connect immediately with frontline staff and volunteers thanks to his paramedic and volunteering background.’

Boulton continued: ‘I would like to pay special thanks to Anthony who has worked tirelessly to rebuild the service since last January. Thanks to this work, we are now in a position to take the next steps on our journey, building a better service for patients and staff.’

Morton will take up the chief executive post on 24 August.

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 19 August 2015.

Report reveals extent of alcohol-fuelled physical assaults on ambulance staff in North East

According to a new survey, almost half of paramedics in the North East of England have been subjected to alcohol-fuelled physical assaults while on duty.

The survey of more than 350 paramedics was carried out by the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) and Balance, the North East of England’s alcohol office. Results of the survey were published on 19 August and detail the impact of alcohol misuse on the region’s paramedics.

The report also revealed more than two in five NEAS paramedics have at some point been sexually assaulted/harassed while on duty. Additionally, nine out of ten paramedics agreed that dealing with alcohol-related callouts places an unnecessary burden on their time and resources; and three in five paramedics believed they shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of excessive consumption of alcohol.

A quarter of paramedics stated that at least 50% of their workload on weekday night times is alcohol related, while two thirds of paramedics stated that alcohol-related incidences account for at least 50% of their workload during weekend shifts.

Between April and December 2014, Balance surveyed 358 paramedics, representing 32% of the NEAS workforce, to establish how they perceive the impact of alcohol misuse on their lives. Throughout the report the term ‘paramedic’ includes the roles of emergency care support workers, technicians and urgent care assistants.

Yvonne Ormston, NEAS chief executive, said: ‘Our crews don’t just deal with drunk weekend revellers; our crews see the effects of alcohol at all times of the day and all times of the week, spread across our region and from patients of all ages and backgrounds.’

She added: ‘We take a zero tolerance approach to assault and support staff every step of the way if they have been abused. All staff also have access to a counselling service and a number of helplines to ensure their mental health is looked after as much as possible.’

In 2013/14, Balance estimated that alcohol-related harm cost the region £911 million, with the NHS paying £242 million.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: ‘ It’s outrageous that paramedics don’t feel safe in their working environment as a result of other people’s alcohol misuse. These are people who are there to help us when we need it most, yet they are living in fear of physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis. How many of us would expect to work like this?

He added: ‘Our relationship with alcohol is out of control. We need to bring it under control by making alcohol less affordable, available and less widely promoted. We need the Government to support a range of targeted, evidence-based measures such as increasing the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol products, which has been shown to save lives, reduce hospital admissions, cut crime and lessen the financial burden alcohol places on frontline services.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 19 August 2015.

College of Paramedics’ Council representatives announced

Representatives to the College of Paramedics’ Council were announced at the College’s AGM held on 19 June.

Formal notice of the elections were given by the College on 10 April, with nominations received by 8 May. Ballot papers were issued on 28 May and returned by 12 June.

Below is a table of the complete list of council representatives, including those elected following the recent elections:

National or regional area Council member Council alternate(s)
Northern Ireland Andy McFarlane Ciaran McKenna
Scotland Dahrlene Tough* Isobel Donaldson, Neil Sinclair*
Wales Andy Jones* Alison Woodyatt*, Ross Whitehead*
North East Dan Haworth* Vacant
North West Chris Veevers* Glenys Harley
Yorkshire Liz Harris Shaun Knott
East Midlands Dave Saxby* Steve Porter
West Midlands Andrew Rosser* Simon Greenfield
East of England Tracy Nicholls Graham Clark*
South Central Ursula Rolfe Els Freshwater*
London William Broughton* Jonathan Street*
South East Coast Florian Breitenbach Michael Fletcher*
Great Western Jim Petter William Lee*
South West Kris Lethbridge* Richard Steggall
Independent David Reed Vacant
Military Kevin Swift Andy Smith*, Vacant
Student Michael Stevens* Kate Jackson

*denotes elected in 2015

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 28 July 2015.

Quarter of all registered paramedics now members of the College of Paramedics

The College of Paramedics has confirmed it now represents 25% of all Health and Care Professions Council registered paramedics.

Speaking of reaching this important milestone, chief executive Gerry Egan said:

‘I am delighted we have reached the 25% figure. This is an important milestone in the College’s strategic direction, it reflects the growth of the College and the growth in interest from paramedics in how we influence and guide the direction of our profession. Many thanks are due to everybody involved in getting the College to where it is today, including the administrative team at our headquarters, our executive officers, our Council members and, of course, the continued support of our members. We are halfway to achieving one of the requirements to become a Royal College and I am sure it will not be that long before we are knocking on the door of 50%. Everyone can help us on this incredible journey by promoting the College and spreading the good news.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 28 July 2015.