The NHS in the North East is marking two years of achievement this week as a major programme to improve urgent and emergency care services moves onto a new footing.
The North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network has delivered a range of initiatives including extra clinical advice to improve 999 and 111 call handling, a pioneering mental health crisis training programme and a popular NHS Child Health app.
Established with support from NHS England’s New Models of Care programme, the network has ambitious plans for further improvements after its national funding ends this week.
Dr Stewart Findlay, Chair of the North East and North Cumbria Urgent and Emergency Care Network, said: “We all rely on the highly complex system that provides urgent and emergency care, and the network has brought together over 30 organisations to make changes at a speed that would be impossible for any organisation on its own.
“Over the past two years we have road-tested a series of changes to ease the pressure on emergency services, with better coordination and help for patients to play their part in safeguarding the NHS. This vital work will now continue as clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) have seen the impact it has made.”
The network has invested in large-scale research giving a clearer insight into the choices we all make as patients, leading to an acclaimed ‘plasticine people’ campaign to influence patient behaviour and reduce pressure on services.
Almost 8,000 families have downloaded the NHS Child Health app, which has been shortlisted for two national awards after its success in helping parents to identify common illnesses and know when to seek medical advice.
Another ground-breaking initiative is Respond, a training package improving mental health crisis care by bringing teams together to deal with simulations of real-life situations.
A new ‘flight deck’ system now displays the current status of emergency care across the region and predicts peaks in demand, making it easier for ambulance crews and emergency departments to support each other through busy periods.
In addition, hundreds of care home staff have been trained to use the National Early Warning System for caring for acutely ill patients, and reducing the risk of falls.
The anniversary coincides with the launch of the NHS’s new delivery plan for the Five Year Forward View – which sets out the health, quality of care, and funding gaps that will open up in the coming years if the NHS does not change – by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens on 31 March.
Dr Findlay added: “As a national vanguard area we have been able to make a real difference, but the hard work continues. We all have a role to play in safeguarding the NHS for the future, by looking after their own health and choosing the right service for our needs.”
Over a five-year period, the network will continue its work to reduce hospital admissions and emergency department (formerly A&E) attendances, make better use of GPs and pharmacists, and help patients take more active control of their own health.
The NHS Child Health app is available for download from Google Play and the App Store.