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Deploying A&E hit squads to get ambulances back on road

By Gemma Gardner

Patient Safety Intervention Teams from East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST)
Patient Safety Intervention Teams from East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST)

Support teams will be sent to busy A&E departments in the region this winter to take patients out of the hands of paramedics to ensure they can get back on the road quicker.

The East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) has launched the new scheme which aims to tackle handover delays that has been a long-standing issue at East of England hospitals.

Matt Broad, interim deputy director of strategy and transformation at EEAST, said: “These teams are only deployed in very certain circumstances, however, they have already proven their effectiveness.

“We deployed a team on Monday, meaning six crews could immediately hand over care of their patients, to restock and be back out on the road. It should mean crews can get back on the road to help patients quicker.”

Patient safety intervention teams (PSIT) will be deployed where ambulance staff are being held-up with patients at emergency departments for longer than 45 minutes and 999 callers are waiting for a response in the community.

The ambulance service has taken this step to keep on top of the surge in demand, typically brought by the colder weather.

The scheme, which will run until March, was launched last week and five PSIT teams will be rolled out across the region.

PSIT staff will be clearly identifiable and will be dispatched to hospitals by a “tactical commander”.

EEAST publishes monthly figures on its website about how many hours it has lost by waiting longer than the recommended 15 minutes to transfer patients to the care of hospital staff at emergency departments in the East of England.

In September this year, the latest numbers available, the trust lost 250 hours at Addenbrooke’s, 156 hours at Peterborough City Hospital, and 88 hours at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

Also in the past week, the service has announced that it has won an “improving value through innovation” award from the Health Care Supply Association (HCSA) for a scheme that could potentially save millions of pounds.

The scheme launched between the EEAST, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, and East of England NHS Procurement Hub to reduce waste by standardising the use of medical products.

A pilot began in July which resulted in the ambulance service using dual use electrodes for electrocardiograms that do not need to be changed when a patient arrives at an emergency department, and can be used on a patient for up to 72 hours. The move could potentially save the NHS £1.2m if adopted nationwide.

The partnership is looking to take a similar approach with the procurement of wound care products, IV devices, linen, and splints.


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