Ambulance service anticipates busy winter

The East of England ambulance service will be “drawing on support from partners within the military and fire and rescue” to help mitigate an anticipated “very busy” winter period.

It has added that wherever appropriate, it will not be sending ambulances to non-urgent patients and instead directing them to more “appropriate services”.

EEAST, along with the rest of the NHS, is anticipating an extremely busy winter.

In its report to Essex County Council’s health policy and scrutiny committee, EEAST has set out its plans for the coming months and how it aims to tackle increased demand across the winter months, including plans to recruit additional 999 call handlers.

It is also offering overtime and other incentives to get more ambulances on the road and is “setting plans in place to draw on support from partners within the military and fire and rescue services to assist with our emergency and non-emergency services”.

The report adds the service will be “wherever appropriate, not sending ambulances to non-urgent patients and directing them to more appropriate services”.

Currently, the services manages around 10 per cent of its patients through Hear and Treat where self-care advice is given over the phone.

It is also directing around 1,500 patients per week to other sources of help and is using other channels to encourage people to use other services where they can, such as 111 and 111 online, pharmacies and their GP.

An EEAST report to the Essex Patient Experience Scrutiny Committee published on August 23 will be examined by the health policy and scrutiny committee on September 2.

In conclusion it said: “Operational demand and pressure remain, with mitigating actions being undertaken in accordance with our escalation plans.

“We have experienced a surge in demand over summer, which was experienced by other ambulance services and the NHS in general. Our staff have stepped to offer additional shifts and we have worked closely with NHS and other colleagues to identify causes for ambulance delays and find innovative ways to deal with them.

“Our work on progressing to the next stage of our improvement journey has commenced, this focuses on solid foundations in five key areas. These underpin how we can move forward sustainably. We are now preparing our plans for the coming challenge of winter.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter