New community paramedic scheme for Berwick

A three-month pilot scheme to explore a new way of delivering NHS services in the Berwick area will start next month.

From July 1 a team of paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) will work alongside GPs for patients in the town and surrounding areas.

The three-month pilot is a joint initiative between the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NEAS. 

The pilot will operate across the Well Close Medical Group, the Union Brae and Norham Practice and Berwick Infirmary minor injuries unit (MIU).

A paramedic will be available from 9am-9pm for seven days a week and the team will work in Berwick and surrounding areas. 

The paramedics will use a rapid response vehicle with the primary care teams at the two GP practices from 9am-6pm and work alongside the MIU from 6-9pm on Mondays to Fridays.  They will work with the MIU from 9am-9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The aim of the initiative is to:

-  provide improved access to community-based health care;

-  minimise the time taken to respond to life-threatening emergencies; and

-  use NHS resources more efficiently by reducing the number of patients taken to hospital unnecessarily.

The team will support the GPs by making urgent visits to patients, help with the care plans for patients with long-term medical conditions and work with other healthcare staff, such as the district nursing team.

However, the primary role of the paramedics will continue to be to respond to life-threatening emergencies in the Berwick area if they are the nearest ambulance resource.

Ruth Corbett, the Clinical Operations Manager for NEAS in north Northumberland, said:  “I’m really passionate about supporting local people with our resources in the area and this is an exciting opportunity for us to explore better integration with the primary care teams to try and minimise the number of hospital admissions by treating patients in their home.

“The nearest emergency department is almost 60 miles away.  That’s a long journey for a patient and means an ambulance is unavailable for other incidents in the area for at least three hours.  The paramedics are really enthusiastic about this pilot.”

Siobhan Brown, Chief Operating Officer of NHS Northumberland CCG, said:  “We hope this pilot will allow us to trial new ways of working  by improving access to community services and using NHS resources more efficiently particularly for those patients in remote communities.”

Hilary Brown, manager at the Well Close Medical Group, said:  “This is a really positive initiative for health services in this area and brings care to patients more quickly than previously.”

And Helen Henderson, manager of the Union Brae Surgery, added:  “We’re looking forward to working with the community paramedics and I’m sure it will be a positive learning process for all of us.”

The pilot scheme will be evaluated and outcome data will be used to inform future commissioning decisions in the Northumberland urgent care system.

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