The chief officer of two Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in Sefton took part in a 12 hour shift with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) to get to grips with the way they work.
Fiona Taylor of NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG decided to take part in observing a full shift with two ambulance crew and listened in on 999 calls to get a real feel for the service and an understanding of how busy they are.
Talking about the shift, she said: “I like to go out to observe the different services that we commission and working with NWAS has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I know that NWAS has been under scrutiny for not meeting turnaround times but now I see why as they are so busy.
“I was surprised by the number of call outs in one day but despite this, the staff I worked with delivered compassionate patient care throughout the shift. It really was enjoyable, though hard work but the crew’s individual commitment was very humbling to see.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to the team for letting me shadow their day, I’ve also been to the control room to gather an understanding of how the calls are dealt with as I think it’s so important that I am fully aware of all aspects of service delivery so we have a greater understanding as a CCG.”
Interim head of service at North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Bob McGowan comments: “Accompanying an ambulance crew is always a real eye-opener for anyone and is especially important when the observer is one of our NHS colleagues.
“The working environment for our crews is vastly different to hospital staff, and while the aim is the same, providing the best possible care for the patient, it is always worthwhile to see first-hand the challenges we face. By doing so, we can effectively work together to improve patient care and experience.”
The CCGs remind people to examine their options before calling 999, which is for life threatening cases.
Feeling Unwell? – Examine Your Options
Across the area there are a range of health services to support people if they feel unwell or have any health concerns. There are services which you may be unfamiliar with, but could be more appropriate and convenient for you depending on your specific issue.
For minor ailments and injuries your best route to recover is likely to be self-care. There are a variety of services that can support you to do this:
Your local pharmacy can offer free, confidential and expert advice on a range of health issues. They can help you prepare for many of the common illnesses like coughs and colds.
You can find a wealth of trusted advice about hundreds of health conditions and details of GPs, pharmacies and dentists in your local area by visiting the NHS.uk website: http://www.nhs.uk. It also includes a symptom checker.
When you need medical help or advice fast, but it is not a 999 emergency, you can also call the NHS 111 service. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
Your Local GP
Your GP should be your first point of contact for non-emergency illnesses you can’t treat yourself. Your GP is available from 8.00am to 6.30pm weekdays.
If you don’t have a GP, you can register with your local surgery. If you’re not sure where this is, you can find out at: http://www.nhs.uk or call 0300 77 77 007.
GP Out of Hours Service
If your local surgery is closed, you can still see a GP with the GP out-of-hours service; just call 111 and you can speak to a local GP over the phone or face to face if necessary.
It is very likely that you and your family will be seen and treated more quickly using the out-of-hours service than if you were waiting to see a doctor in A&E, especially at busy times.
NHS Walk-In Centres
Walk-in centres provide treatment 365 days a year for illnesses that you can’t treat yourself and there’s no need to book an appointment.
For more information please visit www.examineyouroptions.info