Ambulance Service performs well despite bad weather

THE East of England Ambulance Service performed well against the challenges posed by treacherous weather and a steep rise in calls at the weekend.

Hayden Newton, chief executive officer for the service, said early indications suggested the weekend’s response figures were the best in the Trust’s history where difficult weather and high demand were issues.

But he urged people to continue keeping warm and keeping well and to choose their NHS service wisely so unnecessary demand was not placed on the 999 system.

Mr Newton, along with three other members of the Executive Team worked round the clock at the weekend to help manage a 20% rise in demand as well as respond if necessary, reflected on the weekend: “I am delighted that we are seeing the best performance for conditions of this kind since the Trust was founded six years ago.

“Exceptionally hard work by our crews, volunteers, support staff, managers and the exec team means we have been able to get the right treatment to patients who really needed us.”

The Trust’s clinical support desks (CSDs) contributed significantly over the weekend by helping patients with more minor conditions get the best care for them. CSDs are in each of the three control centres and benefit patients with a genuine medical issue but one which is clinically assessed as a non emergency.

Patients calling 999 with such conditions will be given advice and referred to the right pathway for them so more serious patients can get help.

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People can also help themselves by heeding the keep warm, keep well message and choosing the right service for them if their condition doesn’t warrant a 999 response, such as accident and emergency departments, out of hours doctors, GP, pharmacist or NHS direct.

Mr Newton also encouraged good neighbourliness, asking anyone living near an older or vulnerable to check up on them during the cold spell.

He said: “During cold weather, make sure you only go out if you really need to. However if it is necessary dressing warm and wearing layers can make all the difference.

“Please also consider those more at risk of illness or medical need, and of course make sure you’re stocked up on any medication for short or long term conditions.”

Actions you can take to keep yourself healthy during cold/severe weather:

* Keep active, which as well as keeping you warm is also good for the heart. A few gentle exercises at home can keep the blood flowing properly. Wear extra layers of clothing and drink regular hot drinks and make sure you check on elderly relatives or neighbours who live alone.

* Illnesses such as norovirus and flu can be exacerbated by cold weather, particularly in those who are already ill or who have a long term condition. To help prevent infections and viruses use basic hand hygiene – washing your hands with soap and warm water.