Military Medics & LAS Mark Close Of Ground-Breaking Partnership Tackling COVID-19

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Staff from London Ambulance Service and medical specialists from the armed services joined together for the ‘Clap for Our Carers’ last Thursday evening (30th April).

They stood together for the applause on the steps of LAS’s HQ in Waterloo as a pioneering partnership between the Service and the military drew to a close.

In recent weeks, serving military medical specialists from all three armed services have supported LAS taking patients between intensive care units (ICUs) to hospitals with more capacity in the capital, including the new NHS Nightingale London Hospital at the ExCel.

Garrett Emmerson, Chief Executive of London Ambulance Service, said: “During this unprecedented global health emergency, which has placed London Ambulance Service and the wider NHS under extreme pressure, we have had excellent support from many quarters to scale up our response against COVID-19.’

LAS & Military Medics Clap For Carers

“I am incredibly grateful to serving members of our military who have gone above and beyond in recent weeks to help London Ambulance Service transfer critically ill patients to hospitals where they can get the care they need. Their support has been instrumental in saving lives across London.”

Lieutenant Colonel Harvey Pynn, the team’s clinical lead, said: “We are proud to be able to support the NHS at this critical time.’

Our team are all regular serving medical professionals from across the armed forces. We are pleased to be able to assist the NHS who are doing such a fantastic job under the greatest of pressure.’

“Moving critically unwell patients is a challenging task. By rapidly mobilising these critical care teams we have eased the burden on some of the hospitals in London and delivering the right group patients to new facilities at NHS Nightingale.”

Capt. Tom Moore

This evening, London Ambulance Service also paid tribute to fundraiser Captain Tom Moore on the occasion of his 100th birthday and the achievement of raising more than £30m for National Health Service charities by walking laps of his garden.

Thanking Captain Moore for his support for the NHS, Mr Emmerson added: “His achievement is inspirational and on behalf of London Ambulance Service I would like to wish him many happy returns on his 100th birthday.”

During the pandemic, London Ambulance Service has entered a number of new partnerships with public and private sector organisations from the AA to London Fire Brigade to help support its operations at this exceptionally busy time.

The military personnel, who specialise in emergency medicine and anaesthetics, were monitoring patients as they made the journey between different hospitals.

Based out of a temporary ambulance station next to the ExCeL, the team assisted the Service for two weeks as part of the military’s wider support for civilian authorities as they battle against COVID-19.

London’s Air Ambulance Welcomes Four New Trustees

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London’s Air Ambulance, the charity that delivers a 24/7 advanced trauma team to critically injured people in London, has strengthened its Board with the appointment of four new Trustees. 

The new Trustees, Gemma Sherrington, Brigadier Tim Hodgetts, Dr Margot Gosney, and James Thomas together bring a wealth of experience across the charity, military, technology and medical research sectors.

Chairman of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, Mark Vickers said: “I am delighted to be welcoming our four new Trustees onto the Board.’

“They bring with them exceptional knowledge and expertise, enhancing even further the long-term stability of the Charity in these challenging times.’

“It is already apparent that they share, with a passion, our vision to end preventable deaths in London from critical injury, through our rapid response, specialist trauma teams.’

“On behalf of the whole service, I am honoured that we have been able to attract such high calibre talent into the Charity and we look forward to benefiting from their contributions on the Board.”

Gemma Sherrington

Gemma Sherrington, Director of Fundraising & Marketing, Save the Children

Gemma is a member of the Executive Board at Save the Children UK, leading fundraising and marketing teams responsible for engaging the Charity’s supporters who generously give their time, money and voice to support the UK’s most vulnerable children.

Gemma has over 15 years of fundraising and marketing experience, previously working for NSPCC, Cardinal Hume Centre and WaterAid.

James Thomas, Chief Technology Officer, Wellcome Trust

James is Chief Technology Officer for Wellcome, an independent health research foundation, where he is responsible for leadership of technology and digital services.

James is on the Industrial Advisory Board for the School of Computing and Communications at the Open University, and is also executive sponsor for the Data for Science and Health Priority area, a programme seeking to ensure everyone can benefit from health data innovation.

Prior to working at Wellcome, James had an extensive career in the private and public sectors including technology leadership roles in the NHS.

Brigadier Tim Hodgetts,
Head Army Medical Services & Senior Health Adviser to the Army,
Honorary Professor of Emergency.
Photo Credit: www.edwardmoss.co.uk

Brigadier Tim Hodgetts, Head Army Medical Services and Senior Health Adviser to the Army; Honorary Professor of Emergency

Tim is an emergency physician with over 35 years of military experience and has treated victims of conflict in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Specialising in military emergency medicine and pre-hospital care, Tim has published extensively and designed curricula for both military and civilian audiences in pre-hospital care, trauma and disaster medicine.

He is also a Commissioner at the Royal Hospital Chelsea and co-Founder of the registered charity citizenAID.

Dr Margot Gosney,
Director of Clinical Health Sciences,
University of Reading.
Elderly Care Consultant, Royal Berkshire NHS Trust

Dr Margot Gosney, Director of Clinical Health Sciences, University of Reading; Elderly Care Consultant, Royal Berkshire NHS Trust

Margot is a Geriatrician also trained in Medical Oncology. She was appointed Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool in 1992 and Professor of Elderly Care Medicine University of Reading and Honorary Consultant in Elderly Care Medicine at the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust in 2003.

Margot has set up and run a a Comprehensive Care for Older People with Cancer service in Berkshire and has advised the Department of Health and Macmillan Cancer Care on the management of older people with cancer.

She also researches barriers to good nutrition and strategies to improve this with a particular focus on hospitalised individuals at most risk of the results of suboptimal nutrition.

Chief Executive of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, Jonathan Jenkins said: “Trustees play a vital role in the governance of charities; volunteering their time and sharing their expertise to support and shape our work.’

“I have no doubt that our four new Trustees will be a valuable addition to London’s Air Ambulance Charity and help us make an even greater impact over the new few years as we continue to push the boundaries to save more lives in London.”

London’s Air Ambulance has a world class reputation for delivering clinical innovation and pioneering treatment at the roadside and is known for using new technology and treatments to bring the most innovative care to the people of London.

In 2019, the charity’s 30th anniversary year, the helicopter and rapid response cars took an advanced trauma doctor and paramedic to 1,730 patients whose lives were on the line.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the service continues to operate 24/7 for every one of the 10 million people who live and work in London, while also supporting nationwide efforts to manage the impact of coronavirus.

Jessica Sings-Up For NHS fundraising Hero Captain Tom

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A talented member of Welsh Ambulance Service staff has played her part securing a number one hit single to honour an incredible NHS fundraiser.

Jessica Griffiths, an ICT and Health Informatics Support Officer  based in St Asaph was one of the performers on current UK chart-topper You’ll Never Walk Alone, released by international musical star Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir.

Jessica Griffiths,
ICT & Health Informatics Support Officer,
WAST

The song is to honour war veteran Captain Tom Moore, 99, from Bedfordshire, who set out to raise £1,000 for the NHS by walking 100 lengths of his garden before his 100th birthday. 

His story captured the hearts of the nation and his efforts went on to raise a staggering £25 million pounds for the NHS.

It all started when a colleague of keen singer and performer Jessica tagged her in a Facebook post appealing for singers who work within the NHS to come forward for a project.

Jessica said: “My colleague Keighley Molson tagged me in the post around 3pm last Thursday (April 16) and by 5pm I had received a backing track to sing to and been told Michael Ball was behind it.

“They said the song was going to be mixed overnight, so it was all a bit urgent.’

“I sat in my car at home with my phone and laptop and recorded myself singing so as not to disturb the neighbours.”

Captain Tom Moore

The very next morning the song was debuted on Radio 2’s Breakfast Show with Zoe Ball and the reason behind the collaboration revealed along with its celebrity creator.

“It was a really emotional moment,” said Jessica.

“I had no idea it was for the amazing Captain Tom and to hopefully get him to number one for his 100th birthday.”

Captain Moore will turn 100 this Thursday, April 30.

Later that Friday, the 40 NHS contributors were all invited on to a Zoom tele-conference call to meet each other.

Jessica said: “We were all on the call having a chat and meeting each other when Michael Ball popped up in the middle and thanked us all.’

“He even asked if we’d all be up for meeting and performing the song once it is safe to do so again.’

“We sang the song together and this is how they recorded the video. Again it was put together overnight and played on television the next day.’

Michael Ball and the NHS Voices of Care Choir

“I never thought it would be so successful and I’m very proud to be part of it” Jessica said.

Jessica, 28, from Prestatyn, is a keen performer and member of the Rhyl and District Theatre Company as well as singing in a duo at weddings and events.

Captain Tom Moore has since been honoured with a Royal Mail postmark which reads: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020.”

Coronavirus Emergency Appeal: Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex Needs To Raise £535,000

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Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) has launched a Coronavirus Emergency Appeal to raise vital funds for its life saving service.

KSS needs to raise £535,000 to ensure it can continue to provide world-class fast-response medical care to the sickest and most critically injured across the Kent, Surrey and Sussex regions.

In addition, the charity is now also working alongside the NHS and South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) to transfer critically ill Coronavirus patients between hospitals in its local regions.

This is the most important appeal KSS has ever launched. Never in our 30-year history have we had to call on public support with this urgency … Together we can save the lives of those who need us now more than ever.

The KSS Coronavirus Emergency Appeal has been triggered by a shortfall in its core funding due to the cancellation of major fundraising events, combined with the increased costs associated with operating a safe service during the Pandemic, with full infection prevention controls for its crew, patients and aircraft.

KSS has needed to invest in specialist equipment and protective wear to ensure its staff have the necessary resources to stay safe and can continue to save as many lives as possible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Commenting, David Welch, CEO said: “This is the most important appeal KSS has ever launched. Never in our 30-year history have we had to call on public support with this urgency.’

David Welch, CEO,
KSS Air Ambulance Trust

We are steadfast in our commitment to continuing our primary service at this time and are also fully committed to working on the frontline of the Coronavirus pandemic when called to do so, while ensuring the safety of our patients and our crew.’

“However, we need help from our inspirational and generous supporters in order to deliver these services.’

Like everyone, we are facing unprecedented times, and fundraising is incredibly challenging. As a charity, we are completely reliant on the generosity of our donors and supporters, with 89% of the £14M we need each year to deliver our life saving service being raised or donated by the public we serve.’

“We could not operate without you and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. But we now urgently need your help. Please donate today to help KSS care and save lives.’

“I thank you on behalf of each and every patient we treat and care for. Together we can save the lives of those who need us now more than ever.”

KSS has outlined a number of items that the organisation needs as part of its Emergency Coronavirus Appeal:

  • £7.50 could fund 9 sets of disposable moisture repellent coveralls
  • £35 could fund 200 fluid repellent surgical masks
  • £50 could fund 50 ventilator filters for infection control within the aircraft
  • £620 could fund a Versaflo respirator to help patients to breathe and protect them from hazardous substances

Donations can be made online at www.aakss.org.uk/appeal

MDA’S National Human Milk Bank Saves a Premature Infant Prior to the Offical Opening

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Two weeks ago, Magen David Adom’s National Human Milk Bank was contacted by Carmel Medical Center in Haifa with the request to urgently supply safe breastmilk for a premature baby; due to the mother’s medical condition she could not breastfeed the infant.

Although the operational agreements have not yet been finalised between the Human Milk Bank and the Ministry of Health, the health Ministry, MDA’s Deputy Director General of Blood Services, and the MDA Director General approved the supply of the much-needed milk for the premature infant.

This is the first baby in Israel to be fed milk from the MDA National Human Milk Bank in an attempt to save lives.

For nearly two weeks, the baby has been fed human milk from the National Milk Bank, donated by several mothers for the purpose of nourishing premature babies.

Prior to being distributed, the milk underwent all the required testing and processing by the MDA National Human Milk Bank, and has being kept at a temperature of –80°C.

By feeding the baby with the human milk along with the dedicated treatment from the team at Carmel Medical Center, his condition has significantly approved.

Liraz and Gl Carmeli with their newborn child

Liraz and Gal Carmeli, the baby’s parents, emotionally thanked Carmel Medical Center, Magen David Adom and the milk donors, saying: “Only thanks to the donors, our baby can eat and digest food.’

“We hope our personal story will open a door for more babies to receive milk from the Human Milk Bank, which is so crucial.”

“The baby was in a life-threatening condition because he was fed with a formula  which he was unable  to digest,” explained  Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari, who heads the Magen David Adom’s National Human Milk Bank.

“The nursing team, by following world-wide medical recommendations, understood that the baby should be provided with human milk.’

“And indeed, after receiving the approval from the Ministry of Health and supplying the milk, there was a remarkable improvement in his condition. “

Dr. Ayala Gover, Deputy Director of Carmel Medical Center, added: “When we realized that the baby was seriously deteriorating as he was unable to digest the formula or be breastfeed by his mother, it was clear to us that he needed safe human milk.’

“With the help of the National Human Milk Bank of MDA, Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari and the Director of the Mother and Child Health Department of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Dina Zimmerman, we received a generous donation of safe human milk, and to our immense joy, his condition has improved significantly and he is eating and gaining weight. “

Director of the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) at Carmel Medical Center, Prof. Avi Rothschild commented: “This is the first milk donation supplied by the National Human Bank directly to an infant in need. There was a breakthrough in the “glass ceiling” on human milk donation in Israel.’

“This is due to a combination of Dr. Sharron Bransburg-Zabari’s good will, removal of administrative barriers by Dr. Zimmerman along with a neonatal intensive care unit willing to do whatever needed for the well-being of premature babies.”

The nursing team at Carmel Medical Center’s soon to be opened National Human Milk Bank

MDA Deputy Director General- Blood Services, Prof. Eilat Shinar said:”The National Human Milk Bank was established by MDA almost two years ago, at the request of the Ministry of Health.’

“This is to regulate the supply of milk to premature babies in Israel, to prevent the development of intestinal necrosis, which can cause severe morbidity and even mortality.’

“At the Milk Human Bank, set up at the Magen David Adom station in Jerusalem, with the assistance of the MDA Friends Society in Australia (NSW) and other donations, hundreds of ready-made bottles of milk are ready for premature infants.’

“We are currently waiting to finalise the various agreements that will allow us to start fully operating the bank, to save the lives of premature babies, and preventing serious life long illness.”

MDA Director General Eli Bin stated: “Magen David Adom, as Israel’s national emergency medical and blood services organszation, works to save lives in a variety of ways.’

“In this case, even before it was opened, the Magen David Adom National Human Milk Bank provided safe and optimal human milk, donated by mothers who have been through a special approval process.’

“We were excited to hear about the significant improvement in the baby’s condition, and we hope we can continue to save the lives of more babies as soon as possible.”

Female EMTs In Palestine Work Fearlessly To Meet Corona Head On

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Safiya Al Balbisi and Aziza Awad, PRCS EMTs, have been roaming the streets of Tulkarem in the Northern West Bank for the past 40 days, offering assistance in the context of COVID-19.

Al Balbisi, a skillful ambulance driver, has spent the past 23 years working with PRCS and was the Society’s first female EMT and ambulance driver.

Speaking about her experience with PRCS, she said: “I have worked as an EMT for a long time and have gained a lot of experience on how to deal with patients, including those in critical condition.’

“I am not afraid of transporting suspected COVID-19 patients because I follow all precaution measures: I wear protective gear and respect protocols in terms of disinfecting ambulances and EMTs.’

“However, what I fear is unknowingly transmitting the virus to my family, especially to elderly relatives”.

PRCS Paramedics In PPE

Speaking about the protocol for handling suspected COVID-19 patients, Al Balbisi explained that they are transported in close coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health which determines to which healthcare facility they are to be taken.

Ms. Aziza Awad said that what drove her to become an EMT, a profession she is passionate about, was her desire to save lives.

“Traditions preventing women from becoming EMTs should be chased away. I encourage young women to work or volunteer as EMTs, especially given that female EMTs are essential in certain situations”, she added.

Speaking about the handling of suspected COVID-19 cases, Awad said: “As soon as we are dispatched, all information is provided to us by PRCS Central Emergency Services (101 Call Center) and we liaise with the MoH via the Palestinian Preventive Medicine Services in order to ensure all necessary measures are taken”. 

PRCS adheres to all COVID-19 prevention and control measures and has provided Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to its crews as per agreements with the Palestinian MoH.

TRB Starts New Production Of Face Visors For Healthcare Workers On COVID-19 Frontline

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Face visors are vital to protect healthcare workers and other essential personnel

TRB Lightweight Structures is using its material science knowhow and specialist equipment to produce vital personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the Foster + Partners design in the fight against COVID-19.

The company has redeployed personnel and machinery that normally create advanced composite components for electric vehicles to produce an innovative reusable face visor, and is now generating 1,000 of these per day.

Effective PPE is an essential part of efforts to slow the transmission of the coronavirus between individuals, and is particularly important for healthcare workers who are in close contact with patients.

Unfortunately, the unprecedented demand for PPE caused by the global pandemic has led to shortages in almost every country.

To help meet some of this shortfall, TRB has adapted its expertise and kit cutting equipment to manufacture face visors for the NHS.

The company is now in full production and able to make one face visor every 50 seconds.

TRB’s Felix Otomewo and Clint Boa Amponsem using the companys Zund cutting system to produce the first batch of 3000 face visors

This simple, reusable face visor has been created by London architects Foster + Partners, with an open-source design aimed specifically at fast mass production.

Richard Holland, Managing Director of TRB, explained: “These face visors can be produced quickly and easily with kit cutting technology, using the same expertise and equipment we would normally apply to making carbon fibre and composite components.’

“As the momentum grows, more local composite companies are getting involved. These companies, including TRB, have the capacity to produce a combined total of between 10,000 and 15,000 visors a day once funding is secured to purchase sufficient raw materials for high volume manufacturing.”

If you are looking to source face visors, please contact enquiries@trbls.com

Video Technology Launched To Help Clinicians Treat North East Patients

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Patients will soon be able to speak to ambulance service clinicians via video thanks to new technology being introduced by North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).

NEAS is making use of Attend Anywhere software to allow ambulance staff working in the community to seek advice from clinicians working within the Emergency Operations Centre via video link.

This will also be used to speak to patients who require advice but may not need an ambulance to attend to them. Building on this, the service will then be expanded to the wider health system, including care homes.

The new system is one of 17 projects which NEAS has been working on since being chosen as one of three ambulance services to join the national Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme back in 2018.

Clinicians in emergency operations centres are able to liaise directly with Paramedics working in the community

Video conferencing will be rolled out at NEAS in the following ways:

  1. Clinical advice for staff: Newly qualified paramedics will be able to use the facilities to speak to specialist paramedics for clinical advice and reassurance whilst on scene with a patient who they think can be safely left at home without needing to travel to hospital.

    This support was previously carried out as a telephone conversation, relying heavily on vocal descriptions; using video instead will allow staff to use visual cues in their clinical decision making.
  2. Patient support: After going through the triage system on either NHS111 or 999, patients who need to speak to a clinician may be given a secure link via text message, which will take them through to a video call on their smart phone.

    Patients without a smart phone can instead be given the link for their computer or tablet.
  3. Specialist support: The system also has the potential to be used by other specialists, such as the NEAS Hazardous Area Response Team and Great North Air Ambulance, to see whether their services are required on scene, ensuring their specialist skills are reserved for patients who need them most.

Paul Aitken-Fell, lead consultant paramedic at NEAS, said: “As the regional ambulance service, NEAS forms a critical part of the care process, bridging primary, secondary and acute care.’

Paul Aitken-Fell,
Lead Consultant Paramedic,
NEAS

“We only touch patients for a short period of time, with little knowledge of their medical history but often in their most desperate times of need.’

“It is therefore vital that we ensure we are informed as much as possible when we are needed.

“The initiatives we are pursuing through this programme, such as video consultation, are helping us to make better use of technology to improve the care and treatment decisions our clinicians make for our patients.’

“In light of the current coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that we are able to offer ways of being able to keep patients safely at home and reduce unnecessary ambulance attendances and referrals to hospital and other providers.’

“One of the hardest jobs for a clinician working within our Emergency Operations Centre is the inability to see a patient and therefore having to rely on what they are being told over the phone.’

“This inevitably means that they sometimes have no choice but to dispatch an ambulance just to get a pair of eyes on a patient and make sure they’re ok.’

An example of the video calling interface

“The ability to see patients face to face via video consultations therefore means we can potentially reduce ambulance callouts, freeing up our clinicians to see more patients.’

“We believe it may also mean we see a reduction in referrals to other providers, thereby freeing up appointments in the wider system and reducing the wait for people who need those physical appointments.’

“And, for our newly qualified paramedics, it means they will have improved access to clinical support to help them deliver high quality care for every contact whilst also reducing unnecessary hospital admissions.”

The aim of the GDE programme is to join up and digitalise health systems to provide clinicians with more timely access to accurate information and support service change, thereby improving patient care.

NEAS was chosen to join the GDE programme in recognition of its track record of digital delivery, which included being the first ambulance trust to deliver NHS111 services, being the first ambulance trust to roll out airwave radio and communications system service wide and being the first NHS111 provider to deliver region wide electronic GP bookings.

Other projects which have either been completed or are in the process of being implemented as part of the GDE programme, include:

  • Developing a common message to allow ambulance systems to digitally pass patient information to hospital systems supporting the transfer of care process;
  • Creating a central directory which provides NHS providers with real time information about services available to support a patient;
  • Capturing a patient’s NHS number as part of their 999 call, without delaying treatment to the patient, to provide clinicians with access to additional information relating to the patient’s previous symptoms and treatments and to transfer information to other services, such as GPs following an ambulance call-out;
  • Developing simulation software to identify the impact of system changes, both internally and externally, to ensure resources match the needs of the service;
  • Developing a messaging and collaboration platform for informing ambulance staff about their compliance with best practice and informing them of changes;
  • Introducing barcode tracking to better manage medicine and stocks on vehicles.

Ambulance Service Condemns #Unacceptable Assaults

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#Unacceptable assaults on emergency services staff tackling the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic will not be tolerated: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning the public.

More than 100 SWASFT staff including frontline paramedics and 999 call handlers experience violence and aggression while on duty every month.

Recently, a man was jailed for 20 weeks last week for coughing in a paramedic’s face, and in another unrelated case a woman was charged with assaulting a paramedic who was called out to treat her. She is due in court later this month.

Now emergency services organisations are uniting together to highlight this #Unacceptable problem faced by staff across the region during the COVID-19 crisis.

They warn that action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Ken Wenman,
Chief Executive Officer,
SWASFT

Ken Wenman, SWASFT Chief Executive said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.’

“I am so proud of and thankful for them all.’

“Any verbal, mental or physical assault against an emergency services staff member or key worker is completely unacceptable.’

“Sadly we received 1330 incidents of violence and aggression towards our staff in the last year, which is an increase of 16% on the previous year.’

“Unfortunately these incidents have continued during the COVID-19 crisis when our staff are working in an extremely challenging environment to protect and save lives.’

Jennifer Winslade,
Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care,
SWASFT

“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”

Jennifer Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our staff are subject to abuse and aggression every day while trying to provide fantastic care to patients. In March we saw a significant increase in aggressive behaviour towards our staff. This is #Unacceptable.”

The ambulance service is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive messages on social media.

It is also reminding people to follow the national guideless of staying at home, maintaining social distance and practising good hygiene.

New Mental Health Initiative Launching To Support Emergency Services

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On Friday 17 April a new mental health initiative is being launched to ease the pressure facing emergency services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) staff will be supported by mental health clinicians from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) and Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) with NHS111 calls and frontline response. 

Working on a rota basis, the mental health clinicians will respond to NHS111 calls from people experiencing physical health needs or requiring a mental health crisis response, as well as providing advice to paramedics attending mental health related calls to help reduce unnecessary transfers to emergency departments.

Helen Embleton,
Urgent Care Pathways Lead,
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV)

Urgent care pathways lead at TEWV Helen Embleton, who is currently volunteering on the mental health support service rota alongside her Trust role, said: “The current coronavirus situation has increased the demand placed on emergency services.’

“As part of the Integrated Care System (ICS) we have worked alongside NEAS colleagues and other NHS mental health providers and commissioners in the region to develop a pragmatic and prompt solution to address this and to ensure those in mental distress are able to easily access the help they need.’

“This initiative supports work within the Trust to make sure people can directly access mental health support and learning from this will inform longer term service developments.’

“We are excited to implement this new way of working which will benefit those experiencing mental health difficulties in the region. ‘

“Over the last couple of years we have been focussing on delivering a responsive mental health crisis service and this is an excellent example of how agencies can work together to support one another and improve pathways for people who need support and advice to manage their mental health and wellbeing at this difficult time.”

NEAS mental health lead Stephen Down said: “We anticipate that as the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the number of patients experiencing anxiety and distress is likely to increase.’

“To help people access the right help, the mental health support service will offer a listening ear and signposting provision to those in distress.’

“By providing the right support at the right time, we hope to save people from having to be conveyed to accident and emergency departments or waiting days to see their doctor.’

“We also aim to offer support and guidance to staff on scene with people who may need additional emotional support at this very difficult time, hopefully reducing the need to convey those people to hospital.”

Mental health programme director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS), Gail Kay added: “It has never been more important for us to come together as healthcare providers to support each other and ensure the people requiring support and advice to manage their mental health and wellbeing receive the best possible response.”