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East of England’s 24/7 hospital transfer service is first in country

An ambulance service dedicated to transferring critically ill and injured adults between the region’s hospitals has become the first in the country to operate around the clock.

The East of England Adult Critical Care Service, which is hosted by Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, will now serve 18 hospitals across the region, 24/7.

Service director and Addenbrooke's anaesthetist Dr Anne Booth, front, with team members
Service director and Addenbrooke's anaesthetist Dr Anne Booth, front, with team members

Patients can be transferred if they need specialist care or treatment elsewhere, or because their local intensive care unit is full. It is hoped the development will take pressure off frontline ambulances in the area.

The Waterbeach-based service, which is one of ten in England with others in Scotland and Ireland, will also repatriate patients to hospitals nearest to their homes.

The service was launched in December 2021 and celebrated its 1,000th transfer last month. It has around 30 mainly anaesthesia or intensive care consultants and 13 transfer practitioners, all drawn from across the East of England region.

It works in partnership with St John Ambulance, which provides vehicles and technicians. It has a clinical director, Dr Anne Booth, a lead nurse, Hannah Donald, a service manager, Chris Mead, an admin team and educational practitioner.

Dr Booth, whose team clock up hundreds of thousands of miles a year, said: “I would like to pay tribute to our team for their dedication, support and hard work over the last 22 months that has allowed us to reach this point.

“We are all very excited to support the region, ensure patient safety, and work even more closely with our regional colleagues.”

Ms Donald added: “We were very conscious that overnight transfer of patients could cause delays for frontline ambulances working in our region, and we were determined to find a way of preventing this. We have already started 27/7, and it is already paying dividends for hospitals and patients.”

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