03 June 2016 - Northern Ambulance Alliance Launches

Three ambulance trusts have teamed up to work better together to improve efficiency of ambulance services in the North of England.

North East, North West and Yorkshire Ambulance Service Trusts have launched the Northern Ambulance Alliance so that together, they can look at efficiency through joint procurement exercises, major changes to IT, accessing specialist expertise and learning from each other’s achievements.

Ambulance services are already seeing the benefits of collaborating more closely with police and fire rescue services, with tangible benefits to patient outcomes and staff safety.

As a result, the leadership of the three northern ambulance services – North West, Yorkshire and North East - also believe there are greater benefits to be achieved working between organisations; as much as across other services such as our blue light partners.

Yvonne Ormston, Chief Executive of North East Ambulance Service, said: “Sharing borders as we do, the three ambulance trusts have always worked together for the benefit of patients and the communities we respectively serve.  The NAA will allow us to work even closer as clinicians, sharing best practice and innovation at a scale that has not previously been possible.

This is not a merger of organisations, but it is the creation of a body that will *facilitate greater collaboration and realise benefits individual Trusts are unlikely to be able to achieve on their own. 

Derek Cartwright, Chief Executive of North West Ambulance Service, added: “The NAA will work within the existing structure of organisations and their legal frameworks. The Boards of all three Trusts will still have responsibility for their individual service but will also consider the work and objectives of the NAA when making decisions.”

The aim of the NAA will be to continue to improve quality and service delivery for all patients in the North of England, cross border working for clinicians for the benefit of all patients in the North of England, to sharing examples of best practice and innovation and to identify opportunities for procurement through economies of scale and standardisation of equipment.

Rod Barnes, Chief Executive of Yorkshire Ambulance Service, concludes: “This is a great opportunity to explore how we can deliver the improvements expected from the ambulance service within existing resources and for the benefit of patients.

“This might mean the procurement of a single agreed vehicle specification for all three services, identifying savings through the standardisation of maintenance and equipment contracts, which is something that has proved elusive at a national level.”

Q&A

Is this effectively a merger? No, it is an attempt by all three organisations to work closer together to standardise care, identify savings through collaborative procurement and be better placed to tackle the fast moving change agenda.

What potential financial benefits are there? An example might be procurement of a single agreed vehicle specification for all three services, reducing costs and standardising on maintenance and equipment. This is something that has proved elusive at a national level. Additionally through the Alliance there may be opportunities for the Trust to access new, modernisation funding streams.

Are any staff affected as a consequence? No, there are no direct staff consequences. It may well mean in the future that the three organisations consider joint appointments or shared working for new roles and replacements. 

Will this mean that frontline staff are expected to work across the collective patch of the three trusts? No – the boundaries of the Trust will not change and frontline staff will not be asked to work within the geographies of the other Trusts in the Alliance.

Will this mean that our performance and quality standards will be assessed and monitored collectively across the North? No, the Trusts remain completely separate entities and will be regulated independently.

How will this ultimately impact upon service users? The Alliance will provide a number of opportunities to assist us in continually striving to enhance the services we provide. This includes opportunities to learn from each Trust’s experiences and expertise and share best practice.

How will staff be informed and have the opportunity to be involved in the work of the NAA? Staff communication, as with other stakeholder engagement and communication work, will be detailed in the communications plan.  It is the NAA’s intention to engage with staff and stakeholders to seek their views on areas of collaboration.

 

Footnote

*The Lord Carter Review ‘Productivity in NHS Hospitals’ published in June 2015 is one of the driving forces behind the inception of the NAA. The review supports identification of efficiencies and reduction of unwarranted variances.