Innovative end of life transport service shortlisted for national award

Recognition of 'compassionate patient care'

A dedicated transport service introduced by North East Ambulance Service to take dying patients to their preferred place to die has been shortlisted for a national award.

The End of Life Transport scheme gives terminally ill patients the option to be transported by ambulance with a specially trained crew to their preferred place to die within the region.

The initiative, which is the first in the North East, helps patients plan where they want to end their life and ensures they get there in the most caring and comfortable way possible - reducing stress levels at a difficult time.

The service has transported more than 1700 patients to their chosen location since it was launched in October 2015.

The majority of these patients were picked up from hospital and taken home to die.

In recognition of its value to patients, and to the wider NHS, the service has been shortlisted in the Compassionate Patient Care category of the Health Service Journal awards.

For 35 years the HSJ Awards have recognised, celebrated, and promoted the finest achievements in NHS, and showcased them to the service’s most influential leaders, and have grown to become the most sought after accolade in British healthcare.

The shortlisted organisations will now complete presentations and interviews to a judging panel made up of senior and influential figures from the health sector before the awards are presented at a ceremony at Intercontinental O2 in London on 23 November.

NEAS Chief Operating Officer Paul Liversidge said: “We are incredibly proud of our end of life service, which we run with support from St John Ambulance crews.

“To be recognised on a national scale for having delivered pioneering services for people at the end of their life demonstrates the need for dedicated services like this.

“The challenges of managing NHS budgets and increasingly complex needs from the region’s population can unfortunately mean services such as this may not be as high a priority.

“However, both to get this service up and running and to keep it going, it has been a real team effort, and for that I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the process.

“Any opportunity to raise the profile of patients at the end of their life and the services needed to support them is invaluable.

“For those nearing the end of their life, it is incredibly important that they are in a place where they feel comfortable and cared for, surrounded by loved ones. Speed can be critical at this time and our scheme ensures patients are picked up within a timely manner to be taken to their chosen location.

“As well as helping patients think about and plan where they want to end their life, we can ensure they receive compassionate and appropriate care, minimising stress for both the patient and their family at a very difficult time.

“The impact of this service should not be underestimated and we have many stories showing what a positive difference it has made. On some occasions, where we have been able to, we have also been able to grant last requests for patients, such as one last trip to the beach, a church mass and one last visit to the Angel of the North.

“I wish our team luck with their presentation and look forward to hearing the outcome in November.”

Alastair McLellan, Health Service Journal editor, said: "With the NHS experiencing a tough time as funding fails to keep up with demand, the HSJ Awards are once again the best reminder of the excellence the service is capable of.

“Taken together the entries to the HSJ Awards represent work which, directly or indirectly, has saved thousands of lives and enhanced many times that number."

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