A review of our year

Looking back at highlights and challenges from 2021/2022

North East Ambulance Service reflected on the highlights and challenges presented over the last year at its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

 Attendees at this year’s event, which provided the service with an opportunity to meet in person for the first time since 2019, heard how NEAS has coped over the last year, and to see its plans for the coming year.

Highlights from the last year include: 

  • Refreshing our strategy, providing a roadmap for delivery of our vision to provide ‘unmatched quality of care’
  • Securing significant investment to allow us to invest in our workforce and transform our services for the future
  • Introducing post-trauma support for our colleagues
  • Receiving the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award from the Ministry of Defence in recognition of our support to the Armed Forces community. We have seen received the Gold award
  • Launching the paramedic apprenticeship programme to allow us to grow our own paramedic workforce from within
  • Improving hear and treat rates, reducing ambulance attendances by 1.4 percent despite an 18% increase in 999 calls
  • Providing significant assistance across the health system in the region to support same-day discharges to maintain patient flow during extremely pressured times, on top of our scheduled care work
  • Working with James Cook Hospital and North Tees General Hospital to improve the pathways into the ED department, which has seen some improvement in turnaround times at North Tees
  • Securing permanent funding for the Berwick community paramedic scheme, having demonstrated the significant impact the service has made to patient experience and performance in the area
  • Working with partners to maximise the availability of urgent community response care to support older people and adults with complex health needs, avoiding hospital admission and enabling people to live independently for longer
  • Working with our police and fire colleagues to open state-of-the-art shared facilities in Sedgefield and Hebburn
  • Increasing the number of Community Public Access Defibrillators (cPADs) throughout the North East and increasing life-saving skills training events as Covid-19 restrictions eased.

Chief executive Helen Ray said: “Colleagues and volunteers right across our services have worked tirelessly throughout the year to deliver safe and high-quality care to our patient  and I am hugely grateful to each one of them.

“It’s been another challenging year for our service, having spent much of the year at our highest operational alert level and continuing to battle against challenges posed by Covid for both our people and patients.

“However, despite those challenges, this organisation is not sitting still, and it’s done a really good job. I’m particularly proud that we were able to improve our position nationally for our response times in amongst all the pressures we have been dealing with. Of course, we’re still performing under the metrics and, as a result, we know we are causing harm to patients. That’s a really difficult thing for a chief executive to say out loud and I carry that in my heart and in my head every day.

“We are performing really well against a range of clinical indicators, which shows the quality of care we provide. Of course, things do go wrong and we do recognise that, but we are one of the only trusts, if not the only trust, where a death is reviewed by a clinician the very next day.

“What I hold onto is when we get there, we do a great job.

“The significant investment we have received is already working; as we have increased staffing in our Emergency Operations Centre, call answer time has reduced. Recruitment for the CAS is moving at pace and we will be grabbing the NQPs with both hands when they finish, and we’ll start to feel the benefit of that. 

“As well as reflecting on some of the key highlights of the last year, our AGM also provided us with the opportunity to look ahead. As we emerge from the pandemic, we believe our refreshed strategy leaves us well placed to begin the process of recovering our services, supporting our people, and adapting to those changes in our external environment.

“We have a lot of work to do but also a lot to look forward to as an organisation as we transform our service to meet the changing needs of our population and healthcare system.”

Our Annual Report and Review of the Year are available to view on our website here: https://bit.ly/3M2m49T

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