East of England Ambulance NHS Trust's control room redesign a success

STAFF who work in the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust s three control rooms are now enjoying more comfortable surroundings thanks to a three-year development project. In 2007 the service decided to improve its emergency operation centres (EOCs) in Bed

STAFF who work in the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust's three control rooms are now enjoying more comfortable surroundings thanks to a three-year development project.

In 2007 the service decided to improve its emergency operation centres (EOCs) in Bedford, Chelmsford and Norwich as part of the Government's Call Connect programme, and HAM Associates was drafted in with ergonomics design advice to ensure the facilities would be able to meet new demands.

HAM Associates director, John Hargreaves, said: "There were three very different EOCs to assess and a fairly tight schedule to develop and implement any necessary changes.

"The new performance targets required an expansion in call handling, and our ergonomic assessment helped the Trust to define how each EOC space could be adjusted to support this.


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"The assessments also looked at how staff were supported by their accommodation and a staff satisfaction survey was conducted to gather positive or negative responses to a range of room features known to affect their comfort and performance."

The Norwich EOC provided a bench mark for the project and other more objective measures were also collected including temperature, noise and lighting levels.

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Mr Hargreaves added: "The assessment process helped to define an action plan of improvements with each EOC estates team and provide 'satisfaction ratings' to measure the success of any eventual changes against."

Bedford

Amongst the changes, a larger room was made available for the new Bedford EOC, increasing the numbers of stations available. There are still some changes to be made with the new air handling system currently being reviewed with further adjustments possible.

Chelmsford

At Chelmsford, new lighting, partitioning (between the adjacent NHS Direct space) and an acoustic ceiling were given a big thumbs up and new workstations also improved staff satisfaction.

Norwich

Significant changes still had to be made to the room layout at Norwich and this led to slightly more satisfaction with the room layout, acoustics and the thermal environment.

The service's Head of Performance and programme manager for the projects, Gary Morgan, said the scheme had been a challenging but worthwhile one.

"The introduction of the Call Connect national standards not only impacted on front-line crews, but call takers and dispatchers as well, so we had to ensure they were going to be working in the optimum environment," he said.

"To see the significant improvements to the working conditions is a real achievement; we were working to a brief to meet the majority of needs as best and as soon as we could. The feedback from staff has been very encouraging and these changes will assist with the pressures working within the control rooms."

Associate Director of Emergency Operations, Neil Storey, added: "When I'm in the control rooms, it's apparent that staff are benefiting from the changes made to their environment and we can see this in real terms when reviewing our responses to calls from the public.

"It was a major undertaking for the Trust and I'd like to thank all staff for their hard work, cooperation and patience while this scheme has been rolled out.

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