Hundreds of people have avoided an unnecessary trip to hospital thanks to a new ambulance service role dedicated to providing patients with the right care closer to home.
Earlier this year, North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) launched a pilot of a new Urgent Care Practitioner role. The 12 nurses and paramedics respond to patients who have called 999 but could possibly receive support and treatment in the community, rather than having to go to hospital in an emergency ambulance.
Working on vehicles equipped to treat people on scene, the Urgent Care Practitioners ensure patients who can be cared for at home have all the help they need, referring them on to other local health services if required.
While nurses have been part of the ambulance workforce for a number of years, it is the first time they have been employed in NWAS in a role responding to patients.
Evaluation of the first few months of activity has showed that 72% of patients seen by the Urgent Care Practitioners have been provided with the right care, without needing an emergency ambulance to take them to hospital – this is known as ‘see and treat’.
The Urgent Care Practitioners also spend some of their time working in the 999 control centres, speaking to patients on the telephone to provide clinical self-care advice – this is known as ‘hear and treat’. Just over half (51%) of all the patients spoken to by the UCPs were supported over the phone without needing further ambulance service intervention.
In total, the pilot is estimated to have saved more than 1,000 ambulance journeys during a 90 day period, which is approximately 1,625 hours or almost 68 full days of emergency ambulance time.
This saving means emergency ambulance resources would have remained available to attend other, more serious incidents.
Nathan Garlick was an A&E nurse before he joined NWAS to become an Urgent Care Practitioner in Greater Manchester. He said: “I saw this job opportunity and immediately thought of the endless possibilities and immense potential. Nurses can make a huge difference to way pre-hospital care is delivered in the future and it’s great to see the ambulance service responding to the changing needs of the public.
“We can conduct a holistic assessment of the patient’s needs, looking at their health, social and wellbeing needs and how we can improve our patient’s lives. We use every opportunity to promote health and self-care. We’re getting a really excellent reception from patients, their relatives and other health care professionals and every day I get 100% job satisfaction.”
The pilot evaluation follows the recent publication of the Lord Carter review which said that the NHS could free up millions of pounds if ambulance services were able to ‘see and treat’ more patients.
Mark Newton, Assistant Director of Transformation, said: “The findings from the Urgent Care Practitioner pilot are really encouraging. People deserve to get the right care, at the right time, in the right place, every time and for many, that doesn’t necessarily mean an emergency ambulance to the nearest A&E department.
“The Urgent Care Practitioner pilot is just one of the initiatives we’ve been working on to ensure we’re well placed to provide that right care closer to home and working together with local health care providers to support more patients in the community. This helps to keep ambulance resources free to respond more quickly to life-threatening emergencies.”For more information follow the Urgent Care Practitioners on Twitter @NwambUCP