East London’s 999 medical response team now running weekends to save sending ambulances
- Credit: Barts Trust
Teams of emergency paramedics are heading on the road with high-tech medical equipment across east London treating patients in their homes up to 12 hours a day including weekends.
The emergency Physician Response unit based at Whitechapel is now running seven days a week for the first time, to reduce the number of ambulances having to be sent out and to tackle the bed shortage crisis in hospitals like the Royal London.
New funding for the response unit from Tower Hamlets Together NHS partnership is now freeing up hospital and ambulance resources, according to details unveiled this week by the ambulance service and Barts Trust.
Doctors and paramedics are turning up to callers needing emergency treatment, rather than sending an ambulance to bring them to hospital.
“This helps us respond to the high demand on emergency services,” consultant Dr Tony Joy explained.
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“It means turning emergency care on its head, but is cutting pressure on emergency departments by reducing admissions and the number of ambulance call-outs, without patients needing to go to hospital.”
Advanced medication and equipment usually only found in hospital is being carried by the response team, such as blood and urine testing and stitching serious wounds, reducing treatment times by hours.
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Patients also avoid risks from extended hospital stays. Those over 80 experience 40 per cent muscle loss for every 10 days in hospital, increasing the later risk of falls, skin damage and infection.
London Ambulance medical director Dr Fenella Wrigley said: “It means more ambulances are available to respond to our sickest emergency patients. We can save a patient an unnecessary hospital visit.”
One emergency patient who has been treated by the response unit after he called 999 is 70-year-old Joshua Adeleke, who was found septic with a life-threatening infection. The response team gave immediate intravenous antiobiotics and fluids, performed blood tests and altered his medications using the equipment in their vehicle.
Joshua was discharged with antibiotics, avoiding a rush to hospital. His GP surgery was contacted to make sure his treatment was continued afterwards.
The Air Ambulance provides the response vehicle and some equipment, while Barts Trust provides the clinical training, equipment and a senior doctor working half the time in the Royal London’s A&E and the rest with the response unit. The Ambulance Service provides the emergency crew from the 999 control centre in Bromley-by-Bow.
The east London trial run could soon be rolled out throughout the UK.