First year as an FT big success for NEAS

Landmark 12-months for ambulance service

The North East Ambulance Service has crammed a lot into its first 12-months since taking on a new status within the NHS.

One of the core principles of NHS Foundation Trusts is listening and meeting the people who we serve - and we've certainly been doing that across the length and breadth of the North East.

Historically, the ambulance service doesn't crow or brag about what it does. It prefers to let the results speak for themselves.

Putting our modesty to one side, we'd like to tell you about some of the terrific achievements over the last 12-months as an NHS Foundation Trust.

Three months after gaining FT status, NEAS was awarded - in conjunction with Northern Doctors Ltd - a £45 million contract to roll out the non-urgent NHS 111 call service across the North East.

This was testimony to the pioneering work of NEAS, who piloted the service in County Durham and Darlington. Work which is now being replicated around the country.

In March, we were again in the national spotlight. This time collecting an NHS award for a scheme aimed at reducing the strain on the NHS of people who were at risk of being injured by a fall.

Like all good ideas it was really simple. Get a variety of agencies to pool their knowledge of people who might be at risk of a fall, and take measures to minimise the event happening.

By working with local authorities, care providers and other health bodies, our Falls Scheme should go some way to tackling a situation which costs the NHS billions of pounds every year.

Not everyone knows that NEAS has a Research and Development department. As the name suggests, the department focuses on looking at new ways to offer the people we serve the best possible care and treatments.

We are proud to be one of the most proactive research trusts in England, with currently three on-going trials. The ATLANTIC trial has recruited 35 patients to date, more than any other ambulance service in the UK - contributing to over 50% of the total recruitment in the country.

NEAS has successfully recruited paramedics into research posts providing excellent development opportunities for our staff.

2012 was, of course, a big year for the whole of Britain. Most notably because of the Queen's Golden Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics. On both of these national occasions, NEAS was heavily involved; sending staff and vehicles to ensure spectators had the best possible care at hand.

Unlike the Golden Jubilee and the Olympics, not all events can be planned. Our region suffered two ferocious storms during the summer of 2012, causing travel chaos and damage to property.

Motorists were stranded, while residents had to be evacuated. Across the North East, NEAS crews and operational staff rose to the challenge. As first year's go, it really could not have been more dramatic or memorable.

People are at the centre of everything we do. Over the last 12-months we have travelled far and wide across the region, inviting those who live in the North East to tell us what they like and don't like about the service.

Feedback is priceless to us. It helps us develop.

In 2012 we began a major review of our structure, aimed at maximising our ability to maintain the high standards we have set ourselves for many years to come.

As everyone knows, financially, most individuals and institutions find themselves in challenging times. Yet NEAS is strong. NEAS delivered £4.6million of the cost improvement programme in 2011/12 helping to ensure financial balance and deliver the required surplus to enable investment in future strategies.

While patients will always be our number one priority, none of this would be possible without the dedicated souls who make NEAS tick 24/7, come wind, rain or snow.

As such, we decided in 2012 to launch the inaugural Staff Recognition Awards, alongside our existing Long Service Awards night.

During the evening, staff from all areas of the service were honoured for outstanding achievements during the past 12-months. These included a crew who helped a patient escape from a house moments before it was destroyed by a gas explosion, to a call centre manager who radiates calm. Whatever the crisis.

An approach he and the rest of NEAS will carry on into 2013.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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