Innovation and Change award winner

This award recognises creative and original ways to deliver better patient care or services.  Making innovation a reality can feel like an impossible task and require support from different departments across the Trust.

The Paramedic Pathfinder Project was introduced as a pilot scheme in Sunderland to try and reduce the number of patients unnecessarily attending A&E by using the skills of paramedics.

The Pathfinder Project uses a ground-breading clinical triage tool for patient assessments. The tool helps paramedics make an extremely accurate diagnosis and confidently choose the most suitable place for treatment for those with non-critical conditions rather than having to err on the side of caution and take them to A&E.

Leading the project is experienced paramedic Mike, who has trained around 100 paramedics in the Sunderland area to use the tool.

Since the pilot began, more than 1,000 patients have been successfully referred to alternative care providers in Sunderland. As well as improving the patient’s experience by providing care tailored exactly to their needs, Pathfinder has helped to significantly reduce the load on Sunderland’s A&E departments.

Despite coming up against some initial resistance and cynicism, Mike has continued to champion Pathfinder and has won over many clinicians.

He has been a fantastic support to the communications team at NEAS and has taken part in many media interviews, including TV. Mike’s dedication to the project, and ultimately to patient care, has led to commissioners agreeing to extend the pilot in the Sunderland area for a further 12 months.

He is also now trying to expand it into other parts of the region.

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