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HSC News Stories

Service arrangements for Monday 19 September 2022

Monday 19 September has been designated a Bank Holiday to mark the State Funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service will continue to provide a pre-hospital Emergency Service and will also support other HSC Trusts as they endeavour to maintain as many scheduled inpatient, day case and diagnostic services as possible.

As Emergency Ambulance Services throughout UK will continue as normal, the public, if requiring urgent or emergency care, should call 999 without delay. To assist us on the day, we would remind callers that they should not call back to check on arrival times of an ambulance as this blocks lines into Emergency Ambulance Control for others with an urgent need. All calls will be dealt with based on clinical need.

Click here for statement from Department of Health on Health and Social Care arrangements for Monday 19 September 2022

Advanced Critical Care Programme initiated at NIAS

NIAS is delighted to announce the introduction of an Advanced Critical Care programme with the appointment of Advanced Paramedics into the Service. We are lucky enough to have one member of staff who already has the qualification, obtained through previous employment, and have five other Paramedics who, as trainee Advanced Paramedics, will now undertake a course of study, leading to a Post Grad Diploma, alongside a period of Consultant mentorship.


During training the APs will operate within the HEMS team as part of a HEMS Advanced Paramedic Critical Care team, undertaking all the normal duties associated with HEMS. As the role evolves the APCC team will extend their practice into NIAS frontline operational duties. This will bring great benefit to those patients whose clinical need is most urgent as they benefit from the expert clinical practice associated with the programme. NIAS frontline colleagues will also have an extra resource to call upon for the most seriously ill or injured. Additionally the APCC team will progress education and research within the Service, providing visible leadership through the practice of teaching and mentorship.


This is one of the most exciting developments within NIAS in recent times and we look forward to the entire team gaining the necessary qualifications which will lead to them providing, as autonomous practitioners working within a pre-determined scope of practice, high-quality clinical care for patients with a variety of clinical conditions. We wish them all luck in the months ahead.

Body Worn Video Public Consultation Phase 2

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust (NIAS) conducted a public consultation designed to examine the principle of introducing body worn video for the purposes of violence prevention and reduction between 6 December 2021 and 14 February 2022. As part of this consultation, we undertook to carry out a further consultation to consider more detailed factors like deployment, usage, governance, policy and procedure, subject to a positive outcome to this initial consultation.

I am pleased to say there was a positive and supportive response to the initial consultation on the principle of introducing body worn video. Respondents to the consultation recognised the importance of prevention and reduction of violence and aggression, and that NIAS has a statutory duty to keep staff safe. A summary report of the consultation results, and the main themes identified from written feedback, public meetings and questions posted on social media can be found below (Consultation Summary).

We now intend to carry out a pilot of the use of body worn video and, informed by comments made by consultees during the initial consultation, we have developed a second consultation document on the Deployment Plan (see below). The purpose of this second consultation is to seek your views on this plan.

An Easy Read version of the consultation document will also be published. If you have any queries about the document, and its availability in alternative formats (including Braille, disk, audio cassette and minority languages) please contact:

Equality Team
Telephone: 07810 636990
E-mail: john.gow@nias.hscni.net

A separate consultation questionnaire document is also available below for you to complete, but we would welcome your comments in any format. Please send your comments to:

Body Worn Video Public Consultation
Equality & Public Involvement Office
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health & Social Care Trust
Site 30
Knockbracken Healthcare Park
Saintfield Road
Email: consultation@nias.hscni.net
Telephone: (028) 9040 0999
Textphone: (028) 9040 0871

If you would like an opportunity to discuss any aspect of the consultation, please contact bwv@nias.hscni.net.

The closing date for comments is Friday 22 July 2022.

Michael Bloomfield
Chief Executive


Read more here: Body Worn Cameras Consultation | Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health & Social Care Trust (hscni.net)

Body Worn Cameras Consultation

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is consulting on the principle of the use of body worn video cameras for staff (for violence prevention and reduction purposes).

Last year, we launched our Strategy to Transform 2020-2026, which identified a number of key priorities and how we intend to transform our service to deliver these and improve the care we provide for our patients.

One of our key priorities is in relation to our workforce and, in particular, addressing the safety of our staff as we go about our normal day-to-day activities.

In 2020/21 a total of 629 incidents of violence and aggression were recorded against our staff. Staff safety is paramount and the Trust takes violence and aggression towards any member of staff very seriously.

Over the past year, our Violence Prevention and Reduction Group has been developing a supporting strategy to provide the Trust with a range of specific projects and reviews which have identified a number of key actions that will help drive change. One of these projects is to consider the implementation of Body Worn Video (BWV).

This initial consultation process is designed to examine the principle of BWV being introduced to NIAS. While initial draft assessments of equality, human rights, rural needs and privacy impacts have been conducted, and skeleton frameworks for deployment and usage – including high-level approaches to governance are outlined, it is the Trust’s intention to complete and consider this first consultation exercise about the principle of BWV, after which – subject to positive consultation engagement – a second consultation exercise would then be undertaken in 2022 that fully considers the detail of factors like deployment, usage, governance, policy and procedure. The Trust recognises the scale of culture shift involved in the proposal that NIAS employees would wear portable recording devices. That is why the second consultation will be informed by this current exercise.



To view the Consultation on the Documentation of Body Worn Video please click here

To view the questionnaire click here

To view Body Worn Video DPIA click here

To view NIAS BWV Consultation Easy Read Document click here

To view Body Worn Video Consultation Public Meetings Poster click here

To view BODY WORN VIDEO Deployment Plan click here

To view Body Worn Video Public Consultation Phase 2 Questions click here

To view Ch Ex Letter BWV Consultation click here

To view Consultation Summary BWV V.2 click here

To view BWV Deployment Plan Easy Read Final Jun 22 click here

To view BWV Conusultation Summary Easy Read Final Jun 22 click here

To view Body Worn Video Policy click here

NIAS launches “Community of Lifesavers Education Programme”

Every year, in Northern Ireland, approximately 1500 Cardiac Arrests happen in the out of hospital environment. Many people confuse “Cardiac Arrest” and “Heart Attack”. In Cardiac Arrest the heart stops beating and unless attended to immediately the chances of survival are severely diminished – in fact, for every minute that passes without action, such as CPR, the chances of survival decrease by approximately 10%.
The survival rate here for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OOHCA) sits at a low 10%, compared to other countries. We have work to do to improve the survival rates for OOHCA. Everyone has a role to play and can enrol in many schemes at work and out of work which teach CPR. CPR is a key element in the chain of survival as it keeps blood pumping around the body until medical help arrives – and it increases the chances of survival.
Two survivors of OOHCA, Lynda Donaldson and Clare Doyle, are keen advocates for CPR awareness and recently joined NIAS at an event to promote the learning of CPR in the school environment in the lead up to national “Restart a Heart Day”.
The initiative is a joint one with NIAS partnered by CCEA, the Education Authority NI and our four teacher education universities to integrate a “train the trainer” model for Emergency Life Support, including CPR, into the teacher education curriculum.
The aim of the partnership is to create and deliver “Lifesaver Ambassador” training to student teachers, whereby they will bring into the school environment, as newly qualified teachers the skills necessary to deliver Emergency Life Support skills to their pupils.
The Department of Education recently announced that all children in post-primary schools will receive CPR Training. Based on the same model as its forerunner, the “Community of Lifesavers Education Programme” will enable those schools, who have been previously registered in the Heartstart programme, to continue to deliver, to children, this vitally important training in how to save a life.
Stephanie Leckey, Community Resuscitation Lead with NIAS, highlighted the potential benefits of this initiative saying;
“Schools and the ambulance service are both embedded within the communities we serve. I am delighted on behalf of NIAS to announce this partnership with our teacher education universities, and by extension our schools, which will provide generations of young people with the skills and the confidence to save a life. Recent research has shown that only 17% of children who have not had CPR training would be confident to perform CPR if someone collapsed or stopped breathing in front of them. If we are to improve survival rates for Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrests in Northern Ireland, that statistic must change. The Universities are partnering with us to include Lifesaver Ambassador training as part of their undergraduate and post-graduate teacher education curriculum. As such, they will, as newly qualified teachers, be equipped with skills necessary to deliver Community of Lifesavers Education Programme in schools. I am confident that this initiative will save lives”
The initiative has the full support of Northern Ireland's four teacher training universities- Stranmillis University College, Queen's University Belfast, Ulster University and St Mary's University College- who collectively commented:
"Out of hospital cardiac arrest is a major source of death in Northern Ireland. Our schools and colleges are at the heart of every community and, as such, have the potential to play a key role in CPR education, training and promotion. We are delighted to be working with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service on its innovative Community of Lifesavers Education Programme to help develop resource materials for CPR education in schools. Stranmillis, Queen’s, Ulster and St Mary’s are committed to working in partnership with NIAS and CCEA to embed CPR and AED awareness training within initial teacher education. This ambitious project will equip newly qualified teachers with the skills to deliver Emergency Life Support Skills to pupils in Primary, Post-Primary and SEN Schools settings. Vitally, it will also allow those teachers to act as Lifesaver Ambassadors to broaden and develop those Lifesaver skills within the wider community and, ultimately, save lives”.
Health Minister Robin Swann, who attended the launch, said:
“The announcement today that the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Community Resuscitation Team will provide Lifesaver Ambassador training to both undergraduate and post graduate student teachers is a huge step forward in ensuring as many people as possible are trained in this life saving skill. These teachers will pass the skills onto their pupils, increasing the community of people who are trained and helping to improve survival rates of those suffering a cardiac arrest.”
Adding her support to the initiative, Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen, MLA said:
“I welcome this valuable partnership. It is important that our teachers have the expertise and confidence to teach CPR in our schools. CPR is a critical and potentially life-saving skill. The dual approach of equipping our new teachers with these skills and providing CPR training to pupils within the school curriculum will undoubtedly have a clear and measurable impact on survival rates. It will, quite simply, save lives.”

NIAS Consultation on Fleet Strategy 2020 – 2025 Preparing for our Future

We wish to engage with you on our updated Fleet Strategy proposals which has today been published both externally on the NIAS website and internally on SharePoint.  The Fleet Strategy has been developed to compliment and support the implementation of the Trust’s Strategy to Transform.  In addition to describing our fleet replacement programme the Strategy sets out how we will ensure our fleet has the right profile to support effective provision of service whilst reducing our impact on the environment over the coming years.

We want to hear your views and opinions and invite you to respond to our consultation by completing and returning our Fleet Strategy consultation engagement feedback questions which can be found alongside the Fleet Strategy Engagement document on the links below:

 Fleet Strategy Engagement Document

 Fleet Strategy - Engagement Questions V0.3

Our preference would be for written responses to be submitted by email to mignonne.smith@nias.hscni.net

The closing date for receipt of responses is Wednesday 12 May 2021.

As a key stakeholder, your opinions are important to us and I look forward to receiving your responses to this important strategy document.

We must fix our appalling waiting lists – together (NIAS Rebuild Plan April 2021-June 2021)

Health Minister Robin Swann has detailed his ambitions for the re-building of Northern Ireland’s health service, while stressing the need for sustained investment to deliver the plans.

In a keynote statement to the Assembly, the Minister said: “I am absolutely determined to put this right. But as I will argue today, I cannot do this alone. I need the support of this House and my Executive colleagues if we are to address our absolutely dire waiting lists.”

Mr Swann informed MLAs that detailed plans are being finalised on both waiting times and cancer care. These will shortly be issued for public consultation, as will a review of urgent and emergency care.

Today also sees the publication of the latest Trust rebuilding plans for health and social care, covering the period April to June.

The Health Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “significant impact” on “our already appalling waiting lists”. It had also “highlighted serious long established fragilities in our health and social care system, especially in terms of staffing capacity”.

He told the Assembly: “Our health service prides itself on being available to all, free at the point of access. I will today contend that we are in grave danger of undermining this essential feature of our health service. With ever growing waiting lists – I would question whether all of our citizens have adequate access to the health services they need?”

The Minister continued: “To address this burning issue, I will in the near future be publishing for consultation a cancer recovery plan, an elective care framework and the urgent and emergency care review. Our great staff want us to be ambitious about the future of health and social care.

“They want us to build back better, to learn the lessons of the pandemic in terms of capacity, resilience and investment. I share that ambition 100 per cent. I believe the people of Northern Ireland do too.

“However, without a significant and recurrent funding commitment from the Executive, I fear that we will be severely restricted in our ability to deliver. We will be fighting the scourge of waiting lists with at least one hand tied behind our backs.

“We must start putting this right. It is a long-term task and it needs long-term, recurrent funding.”

Describing the current single year budgetary position as “extremely disappointing”, Mr Swann stated: “The present funding model which we operate within is not fit for purpose. What is really needed is a multi-year budget and unfortunately the Executive hasn’t received this from Westminster.”

He continued: “To properly put waiting lists right, we will clearly need more staff in our health service. But how can you recruit additional people to the workforce if there’s no certainty you’ll have the money to keep paying them next year?

“How do you sign up more young people for the required years of training on the basis of single year funding?

“I recognise there are many pressing rival demands on the public purse in Northern Ireland. Huge issues face every Department. I fully accept that the Executive has limited room for manoeuvre in budget terms. Decisions are taken in London and we have to play the cards we are dealt.

“However, I cannot think of a more pressing issue facing us than waiting times. It cries out for action. It is a daily rebuke to the standing of this House and to the reputation of politics.

“It leaves thousands and thousands of our people in avoidable pain – our fellow citizens, our neighbours. We owe it to them to do much, much better.”

The Trust rebuilding plans include elective (planned) care being prioritised regionally. Mr Swann told MLAs elective surgery will be prioritised in line with greatest clinical need, and will not be dependent on a patient’s postcode.

Detailing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister said: “It was not lockdown that added to waiting lists and led to much-needed operations being postponed. It was the virus. Our system, like systems all over the world, simply could not maintain a normal service, given the surge in patients requiring life-saving and immediate intervention. Staff had to be redeployed. Agonising choices had to be made.

“This was not about prioritising one condition over another. It was about providing care to the sickest patients quickest. It was about maintaining ICU care for everyone who required it, COVID and non COVID patients alike.”

In relation to cancer treatments impacted by the pandemic, the Minister said “the vast majority of patients that experienced a delay from January to March this year have since had their treatment completed or have a confirmed plan in place”.

Mr Swann also detailed actions taken to protect elective services as much as possible. These have included establishing Northern Ireland’s first regional Day Procedure Centre at Lagan Valley Hospital.  This Day Procedure Centre has been providing support for the region, particularly for urgent cancer diagnostic work.

Similarly, surgeons from across Northern Ireland have been travelling to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen to provide surgery that could not be provided at other sites due to the numbers of COVID positive inpatients. Northern Ireland-wide regional approaches to the prioritisation of surgery and to orthopaedic surgery have also been progressed.

The Cancer Recovery Plan being finalised is entitled “Building Back; Rebuilding Better”. It will make recommendations to redress the disruption to cancer services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Recovery Plan will be aligned with the longer-term Cancer Strategy being developed for NI and will focus on a three year period.

In addition, an elective care framework will be published shortly. The purpose of this framework is to set out both the immediate and longer term actions and funding requirements needed to tackle waiting lists.

The Minister said that while one-off emergency COVID funds “cannot provide the long-term fix that our health service requires”, they have proved vital over the past 12 months. He confirmed plans for cancer and mental health funds, as well as a carers fund and an allocation to support staff within Trusts. Further details of these allocations will be provided in the coming days.

“All of these allocations have been made possible as a result of the one-off Covid funds made available to Northern Ireland in 2020/21. I would of course love to be able to allocate further funding, on a recurrent basis, to all these areas. But as ever, available recurrent funding is not keeping up with levels of demand and need,”the Minister added.

Click here to access the NIAS Rebuild Plan April 2021-June 2021.


In early December 2020 we issued what we described at the time as ‘a stark warning’ about huge pressures across the health and social care system in Northern Ireland.
At that time we stressed that several of Northern Ireland’s acute hospitals were already operating beyond capacity. Within days, the pressure that the system was under was evident through the images shown across media outlets of multiple ambulances queuing outside Emergency Departments. We also highlighted that there was a very real risk that hospitals could be overwhelmed in the event of a further COVID-19 spike in January.
Although different parts of the country are in different stages of the third COVID-19 surge, and individual hospitals are reflecting this, the situation is very serious with modelling projections indicating that in the third week in January we will be trying to contend with double the number of COVID positive patients compared to the current position today, when several hospitals already have record numbers of patients.
This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. We need the staff to care for the increased number of patients. Pre-existing staffing pressures and staff absence because of COVID, and other reasons, mean that those staff simply aren’t there.
Already several Trusts are having to stand down all but the most urgent elective surgery, including some red-flag cancer surgery, to redeploy staff to meet the urgent and immediate needs of extremely ill patients, especially both COVID and non-COVID patients needing ICU care. These postponed operations will be rescheduled as soon as possible. We have established a regional approach to ensure that any available theatre capacity across Northern Ireland is allocated for those patients most in need of surgery, both during surge and as we come out of this surge. This may mean that patients will need to travel further for their surgery. Cancer services are seeking to maintain chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other non-surgical treatments and alternative treatments will be provided in the absence of surgical options.
We know that we speak for all health and social care staff in assuring the public that we will do everything that we possibly can to deal with the situation that is unfolding. Our staff, although exhausted, will once more go above and beyond to do the best they can for as many people as possible, and we thank them for it. It will definitely not be easy and the care that we are able to provide will at times fall short of the high standards we normally deliver but we will do our very best. Desperately ill patients whether COVID or non-COVID will always be the ones being prioritised.
No-one should be attending an Emergency Department at any time unless they need emergency care. It is likely that those who do attend will wait longer to be seen and for admission to hospital if that is what they require. Patients arriving by ambulance will also wait at times, sometimes for many hours before space is available in an already over-stretched ED. This has a direct impact on the ability of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to respond, in a timely manner, to life threatening emergencies in the community.
Patients also need to leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to leave. We will work tirelessly to ensure that this happens. That might mean accepting a placement where it is available and it might also mean families having to go the extra mile to provide temporary support for relatives. But we will need every bed that we have for those that are most in need.
Pressure in one part of the health and social care system inevitably impacts on the other parts. For example, we might once again need families to be willing to fill unavoidable gaps in domiciliary care.
Never has the phrase ‘all in it together’ been so pertinent and just so important. The COVID-19 vaccines provide the long-term hope and the current lockdown offers the opportunity to shorten the duration of the current surge. The public can play their part too by staying at home, practising social distancing and good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings.
We thank you in advance for your assistance