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Bringing patient care to the front door

Patients in Newham may see a change in the emergency care they receive from now on, as a new type of paramedic service has been launched by the London Ambulance Service and Newham Primary Care Trust that will involve some patients being treated at home.

Emergency Care Practitioners (ECPs) are highly-skilled paramedics, able to carry out detailed physical assessments and treat a range of conditions, from someone who has fallen at home to complex and chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. Their main responsibility is to respond to the lower priority 999 calls when it is suspected that a patient may not need, or even wish, to go to hospital.

Studies have shown that only 10 per cent of 999 calls received by the London Ambulance Service are life-threatening and require an ambulance. This new scheme will ensure that patients get an appropriate response to meet their needs, whilst freeing up ambulances to deal with more traumatic emergencies.

ECP co-ordinator for Newham, Anthony Crann said: “We are pleased to be part of this new service in Newham. We will be able to help patients with a wide range of conditions and find the most appropriate treatment for them, whilst also saving unnecessary ambulance journeys.”

The ECPs will work in partnership with the Primary Care Trust and will liaise with other community health agencies, utilising services like pharmacies, minor injuries units, walk-in centres and social services. They can also transport patients to GPs’ surgeries or minor injuries units if required.

Newham Primary Care Trust Director of Commissioning and Service Improvement, Roger Harris, said: “This service will improve the care we are able to offer in the local community, particularly for our elderly and those with long-term conditions. These patients often need medical attention but do not need or want to go to hospital. Emergency Care Practitioners will help to prevent unnecessary admissions and support patients in managing their conditions as close to home as possible”

Research carried out in the initial five pilot ECP sites has shown high levels of patient satisfaction and some 40 per cent of patients seen by ECPs have not been taken to hospital.

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