NEAS receives "positive" feedback on service provided by call handlers
333 people in the North East give their views on treatment.
Patients who dialled 999 but received care over the phone rather
than having an ambulance sent to them have rated the North East
Ambulance Service in an independent survey.
In the first survey of its type, 333 people in the North East
region gave their views of 'Hear and Treat' services - a '999'
service in which trained call handlers give medical advice over the
telephone to avoid ambulances and paramedics being sent out when
they are not needed.
Patients rated the NEAS with a score of 8.5 out of 10 when asked
about the 'overall' level of care they received during their time
speaking with a call handler.
The survey was conducted by the healthcare regulator Care
Quality Commission (CQC) across all ten ambulance services in
England, with almost 3,000 patients responding nationwide.
Gerardine Hope, NEAS Assistant Contact Centre Manager said: "The
results clearly indicate that we are achieving our aim to manage
and deliver patients' expectations. It helps to celebrate all of
the hard work that is given on a daily basis by the specialist
operators from our call handling service.
"We are proud that our call operators tend to resolve the
general nature of the patient calls, safely, first time around
which means the caller doesn't always need to be transferred to a
"Another encouraging element is that we are already implementing
a training programme to help fine tune the skills of our dedicated
telephony team in the areas of potential development. This will
directly benefit the service users of the future."
The survey asked people, amongst other things, whether they felt
reassured by staff, whether they were treated with dignity and
respect, whether they understood the advice given to them and
whether they received an explanation if an ambulance was not sent
Other sections of the CQC survey highlighted the following
results of NEAS patients:
Call Handler section
The patient was able to understand the instructions given
Rating: 10 out of 10 (better than other NHS Trusts)
Clinical Advisor section
Which of the following best describes how you feel about the length
of time you waited before someone called you back
Rating: 8.4 out of 10 (better than other NHS
Following advice - was it possible to follow the advice
Rating: 9.2 out of 10 (better than other NHS Trusts)
Professor Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals at the
Care Quality Commission, said: "This ambulance survey shows some
positive results. Almost half of the callers rated the service very
good, and the majority of people seem to have confidence in their
call handlers and are being treated with dignity and respect.
"When someone rings '999' they are in obvious distress and they
need to be listened to and allowed to discuss their concerns. In
most cases, this seems to be happening."
Martin Flaherty, Managing Director of the Association of
Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said: "It is vital that the
ambulance service finds new ways to manage increasing demand
appropriately, and Hear and Treat is a highly innovative solution
that is helping us to do this whilst maintaining the highest levels
of patient care. I am delighted that the results of this CQC survey
have shown that the public are very positive about this new way of
helping them to get the most appropriate care."
The figures were collated from ambulance service users aged
18-years and upwards, who received clinical support between the
dates of 1st December 2013 to 31st December 2013.
The findings, taken from the first telephone survey carried out
under the national NHS Survey Programme, were split into four
different categories Call Handler, Clinical Advisor, Outcome and
NEAS Call Operator, Karl Walker, aged 23 of Ryton has worked for
the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for the past
four years. Karl's role is very much on the frontline of
patient care, as call handlers are the first point of contact when
it comes to ensuring the patient receives the best possible
Karl said: "Every call is different. There are never two the
same, which means you have to take a fresh approach when assessing
each new patient. You have to quickly gauge their needs and try to
get onto their wavelength. This helps to build a rapport with
the caller as the assessment procedure is crucial to making sure
the person is allocated the appropriate service for their
"The team also helps to look after the ambulance crews as they
go about their duties. We are in constant close contact with the
paramedics as they answer the emergency calls. The job is very
intense at times but extremely rewarding."
People interested in reading the survey in full can view the
report by visiting www.cqc.org.uk/Ambulancesurvey201314
which contains an A-Z list of the performances of each national
NEAS will be recruiting for part time Call handlers in the
coming weeks. Anyone interested is asked to sign up for NHS
Job Alerts at www.jobs.nhs.uk. This will
notify potential applicants with the range of vacancies that NEAS
currently has available.
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