Community paramedic scheme extended in Berwick

A pilot scheme for paramedics to work alongside other NHS colleagues has been extended for six months in Berwick.

Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 9:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 1:46 pm
Members of the Berwick community paramedic scheme. Picture by Helen Smith.

The community paramedic scheme – a joint initiative between the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) – was launched in July and due to run for three months.

But a decision has now been taken to extend it until the end of March 2020.

So far, the community paramedics have seen more than 900 patients.

The pilot has been extended so that a further assessment can be made of the impact of the scheme.

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The trial has led to a reduction in the response time by the ambulance service for life-threatening cases; more patients being seen and treated at home by paramedics, fewer patients being transferred from Berwick to the Northumberland Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, and extra support for care homes in and around Berwick during evenings and weekends.

The paramedics support local GPs by making urgent visits to patients, help with care plans for patients with long-term medical conditions and work with other healthcare staff.

Ruth Corbett, clinical operations manager for NEAS in North Northumberland said: “We’re delighted that the pilot scheme has been extended for six months.

“It’s been a real success – providing better care for patients and helping NHS colleagues manage the demand for help from local people.

“I am really keen to hear from anyone who has seen or been treated by one of the three community paramedics, as the feedback so far has been both positive and invaluable.”

Siobhan Brown, chief operating officer of NHS Northumberland CCG, said: “This pilot is exploring new ways of working with colleagues across NHS services in the Berwick area.

“It means we are using our resources more effectively, especially in the more remote communities around Berwick.

“During the extension period a full evaluation will be carried out to help us understand as an NHS system how we can improve access to services across the county in future.”

The pilot operates across the Well Close Medical Group, the Union Brae and Norham Practice and Berwick Infirmary Minor Injuries Unit (MIU).

A paramedic is available from 9am to 9pm for seven days a week and the team is working in Berwick and surrounding areas.

The paramedics use a rapid response vehicle and work with the primary care teams at the two GP practices from 9am to 6pm and work alongside the MIU from 6pm to 9pm on Mondays to Fridays. They work with the MIU from 9am to 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays.