The Berwick community paramedic team

Berwick community paramedic scheme extended

A pilot scheme in Berwick for paramedics from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to work alongside other NHS colleagues has been extended for six months.

The community paramedic scheme – which is a joint initiative between the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NEAS - was launched in July and was due to run for three months, but a decision has now been taken to extend it until the end of March 2020.

So far, the community paramedics have seen more than 900 patients since the start of the trial.

The pilot has been extended so that a further assessment can be made of the impact of the scheme.  The trial has led to:

- A reduction in the response time by the ambulance service for life-threatening cases;

- more patients being seen and treated at home by paramedics – freeing up GPs so they can see more patients in their surgeries;

- fewer patients being transferred from Berwick to the Northumberland Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington and Borders General Hospital; and

- extra support for care homes in and around Berwick during evenings and weekends.

The paramedics support local 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.  The primary role of the paramedics continues to be to respond to life-threatening emergencies in the Berwick area.

Ruth Corbett, the Clinical Operations Manager for NEAS in North Northumberland said: “We’re delighted that the pilot scheme has been extended for six months.  It’s been a real success – providing better care for patients and helping NHS colleagues manage the demand for help from local people.   I am really keen to hear from anyone who has seen or been treated by one of the three community paramedics, as the feedback so far has been both positive and invaluable.”

Siobhan Brown, Chief Operating Officer of NHS Northumberland CCG said:  “This pilot is exploring new ways of working with colleagues across NHS services in the Berwick area.  It means we are using our resources more effectively, especially in the more remote communities around Berwick.  During the extension period a full evaluation will be carried out to help us understand as an NHS system how we can improve access to services across the county in future.”

The pilot operates across the Well Close Medical Group, the Union Brae and Norham Practice and Berwick Infirmary Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

A paramedic is available from 9am-9pm for seven days a week and the team is working in Berwick and surrounding areas.  The paramedics use a rapid response vehicle and work 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 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 Berwick community paramedic scheme won the Innovation and Change award at the annual NEAS awards earlier this month:

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