News And Events

Paramedic assaulted by casualty at RTC in Antrim

A paramedic with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has been assaulted by the patient whom he was trying to help following a 2 vehicle road traffic collision on Dublin Road, Antrim on the evening of 23 July.

 

The crew arrived at the scene of the incident within four minutes of being notified which is reflective of their commitment and desire to help those in need.

 

When the crew arrived at the scene, one person required assistance but he became verbally aggressive before punching and kicking out at the paramedic who was trying to help. The paramedic, in trying to restrain the patient and protect himself, received a hand injury with potential ligament damage to his thumb. He continued with the call, taking his assailant to hospital for further treatment, before being checked out himself – further evidence of his own personal dedication to the job he has chosen to do.

 

Once again the Trust finds itself in the position of having to call for stiff sentences to be given to those who assault our staff. We do not believe that any circumstances justify such assaults. Our staff are committed to helping those who have an urgent need of assistance and should be left alone to do what they do best.

Glad to be seeing in the New Year – thanks to Paramedic Neil Blackmore.

HSC Newsletter 2-15Mr Ashe from Bangor paid an emotional visit to Bangor ambulance station to Paramedic Neil Blackmore who played a major role in saving his life.

On Jan 1st this year, Mr Ashe had just returned to his own home after a bit of house sitting in Donaghadee. As he was unpacking, he just felt that something wasn’t quite right and he phoned his son, who lives in the apartment downstairs. “I told him – you’d better get up here”

When his son came up, he found his father in a bit of distress and they decided to phone for an ambulance. Ambulance control sent Rapid Response Paramedic, Neil Blackmore to the scene.

Mr Ashe takes up the story,

“I remember the medic putting the leads on my chest and taking a tracing of my heart. It was then I felt myself slipping away and I told him –I’m going out here!  The next thing I remember was coming round and then an ambulance crew arriving and taking me to the Royal. They took me into theatre, knocked me out and when I came round I was on the ward with stents having been put in. I stayed in the Royal for four or five days and was then transferred to the Ulster Hospital for another few days.

I just wanted to come and say thanks to the ambulance crews because my consultant told me that I am only here because the paramedic knew his stuff. I am so grateful to him and also to the doctors and nurses in the hospitals. Today I’m a bit wary about my health but I know it will get better as time goes on.”

Paramedic Neil Blackmore remembers the call well, it being his first Cardiac Arrest of the New Year.

“When I arrived I took a tracing and sent it to the Royal with the intention of taking Mr Ashe straight in for pPCI. While I was waiting for their okay, Mr Ashe went into VF arrest. I gave him one shock with the defibrillator and that combined with a cycle of CPR was enough to resuscitate him. Even more so, time was now of the essence. Mr Ashe was taken to the pPCI lab at the RVH and had stents inserted to clear his coronary arteries”.

This story is a stand-out  example of how Healthcare in Northern Ireland has developed over the years and is providing greater benefits to the patient. Many paramedics will recall how in time gone by, they would have been faced with a wait at the scene while the cardiac team arrived from the hospital. This situation improved when Paramedics were trained to deliver Streptokinase before taking the patient to the ED. Now, with the right initial care and direct access to pPCI, many patients are finding they are able to leave hospital after a heart attack within days to resume normal living – albeit with a bit more care.

Ambulance crew assaulted attending call in Cookstown

assaultAn ambulance crew was assaulted and vehicle damaged as they attended a patient in Cookstown in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The crew were preparing the patient for transport to hospital when they were approached by a passer-by who appeared to be intoxicated. He began by verbally abusing the crew and then physically assaulted the Paramedic, pinning him to a wall before knocking him to the ground where he sustained injuries to the head and right hand.

The other member of the crew secured the patient safely in the ambulance and went to assist his colleague. The assailant turned his attention to the second crew member and came at him with a flurry of punches. While trying to avoid this attack, the second crew member also sustained a head injury and damaged his knee in the fall.

The assailant then left the scene and the crew checked on the patient and began reporting the incident to ambulance control. While this was happening the assailant returned, got into the driver’s seat and attempted to drive the vehicle from the scene. However, due to a security device installed in NIAS vehicles, the engine stopped as soon as the handbrake was released. The vehicle continued to roll down the incline without any effort of the intruder to prevent it from so doing and it was only as a result of the quick actions of the paramedic, who re-applied the handbrake, that the vehicle did not career into a building.

When the vehicle came to a halt, with the nearside mirror rubbing along the gable wall, the assailant then started to kick out at the equipment on the dashboard damaging the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) screen (through which call details are relayed to crews) and the Sat Nav screen.

He again left the vehicle and the crew took the opportunity to drive from the scene to the nearby PSNI station. The assailant was arrested a short time later.

The crew waited at the PSNI station, to where another crew was despatched from Dungannon to complete the original call. The crew members themselves were taken to Antrim Area Hospital and after treatment were discharged and advised, due to the head injuries, not to drive themselves. Both members of staff are, as a result of this totally unprovoked attack, unfit for duty.

While there is a financial cost (yet to be determined) to replacing this equipment, NIAS is more concerned about the physical injury and emotional distress caused to our staff members. The Trust condemns utterly this latest attack on our crews. It is extremely frightening, in the early hours of the morning, to be faced with such naked aggression and it is not something which anyone should be asked to tolerate – especially ambulance crews who dedicate themselves to saving lives and caring for the vulnerable.

We would encourage that all those who assault ambulance crews performing their duties should face custodial sentences, regardless of excuses proffered. Our staff must feel safe when dealing with patients; their focus must be free to ensure they are providing the highest levels of clinical care to those in need.

In 2014/15 NIAS crews were either verbally or physically assaulted on 251 occasions.

Your Ambulance Service is changing – come and have your say.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service would like to invite you to participate in discussion about new models of care which we are implementing. These are called ‘See and Treat’ and ‘Hear and Treat’ whereby appropriate alternatives, to the traditional journey from home to the Emergency Department, are provided depending on a patient’s needs.

Pic32 In this two hour session you will hear from NIAS staff about some of the proposals and why we are making them. We will detail those changes that have already been implemented and we will illustrate how they have impacted positively on those patients who have already experienced them.

Your views are important to us and you will  have an opportunity at the meeting to make proposals of your own for our consideration.

We will also give you information on how to provide feedback as the project develops.

Refreshments will also be provided.

The dates, times and venues of these meetings are detailed below.

Tuesday 23rd June, 2015 10.00am-12.00pm Crescent Arts Centre, 2-4 University Road, Belfast, Antrim BT7 1NH Register https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ambulance-service-engagement-event-belfast-tickets-17077964652

Thursday 25th June, 2015 2pm-4pm City Hotel Queens Quay, Londonderry/Derry BT48 7AS https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ambulance-service-engagement-event-londonderry-derry-tickets-17078291630

Please register your intention to attend by clicking on the links above.

To allow us to facilitate any special requirements (eg. access, hearing or visual aid support) to enable you to participate please contact transformationpa@nias.hscni.net or Heather at 02890 400999 or text phone 02890400871.

NIAS Chief Executive praises staff for commitment on day of action

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service was subject tballymena-featured-imageo industrial action on 6 May in the form of withdrawal of labour by the UNITE Trade Union in addition to ongoing “working to contracted hours only” action by UNISON, GMB and NIPSA.

The combination of both led to the Trust developing contingency plans with a specific emphasis on the action planned for 6 May and its potential impact.

The Trust cancelled planned non-urgent work to free up the available PCS and ICS crews to assist their colleagues in the emergency tier by playing a bigger role in hospital discharges.

Further contingencies involved the Trust making use of voluntary and private ambulance services to support A&E crews by undertaking work within their scope of practice.

From midnight on Tuesday to 08:00 on Wednesday the Trust operated with 40 of 52 planned NIAS crews. From 08:00 to 20:00 on Wednesday 44 of 61 crews were on duty and from 20:00 to 23:59 on Wednesday 39 of 52 crews were on duty.

In the 24 hour period NIAS responded to 441 emergency calls.  149 of these calls were Category A (life threatening calls).  NIAS responded to 47% of Category A calls within 8 minutes against a performance target of 75% and a more recent performance of mid 50’s%.

The average response time for Category A calls was 12mins 11 secs.

NIAS Chief Executive, Liam McIvor said,

“6 May was a particularly challenging day for NIAS. I would like to express my thanks to all those who played a role in ensuring that whoever called for our help yesterday, got it. I would also like to acknowledge the professionalism of all involved in delivering our service. We see this dedication day-in and day-out but I am aware that many people went the extra mile, putting the best interests of the patient to the fore.  To those who had to wait longer for an ambulance than they would have expected, I offer my apologies but am sure that, when our crews arrived, the care received was second to none.”

NIAS advice to the public ahead of industrial action

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is facing more than two weeks of industrial action from Monday 27 April 2015, in addition to action already being taken by NIPSA which commenced at the beginning of April.

UNISON and GMB trade unions have informed the Trust that they will be advising their staff to work to contracted hours only from that date. The UNISON action will finish on 10 May and GMB will complete their action the following day.

Additionally the UNITE trade union has advised NIAS of their intention to withdraw labour for a 24 hour period on 6 May.

How will this impact on NIAS’s ability to deliver a service?

Working to contracted hours will reduce our capacity to respond as staff are being asked by Trade Unions not to work voluntary overtime. As a result of the withdrawal of labour by UNITE staff on 6 May 2015, NIAS anticipates that there will be an impact on the frontline but also within the Control room.

What will this mean for those who have need of the service?

In relation to the “working to contracted hours only” NIAS anticipates that this will impact on our ability to respond to calls as quickly as we would like and that a backlog of calls may build up.

In relation to the day of action on May 6, the Trust anticipates that there may be delays in answering calls in the control centre which will have a knock on impact on the despatch of ambulances.

What advice can NIAS provide to the public for this period?

The most important advice is that, at all times but particularly over this period, people should only use 999 when they really need it.

NIAS will continue to prioritise calls and will respond first to those with the highest clinical need.

Before calling 999, we would ask the public to consider:

•  Visiting a pharmacy

•  Contacting a GP

•  Using “out of hours” services

•  Using Minor Injury Units

•  Making their own way to the Emergency Department if appropriate

When would NIAS advise patients to phone 999?

NIAS would advise patients to call 999 especially, but not exclusively, in cases of:

•  Unconsciousness

•  Severe blood loss

•  Chest pain

•  Breathing difficulties

•  Severe burns or scalds

•  Fitting

•  Choking

•  Drowning

•  Severe allergic reactions

For more information, please visit our ‘Calling 999‘ page.

Is it possible that calls may not be responded to?

NIAS will seek to respond to all calls from the public. However due to the prioritisation process applied there may be delays for those less clinical urgent calls which we appreciate may cause distress to those involved including elderly people who may have fallen, some young children with broken bones or people who may have been involved in road traffic collisions and have not suffered serious injury.

Letter to NIAS staff re declaration of major incident on 13 March

Dear Colleague,

I want to take this opportunity to write to you following last Friday’s day of industrial action and in particular the declaration of a major incident which placed NIAS at the centre of media attention.

I want to tell you in all honesty that the declaration of a major incident was not a cynical attempt to “break the strike” but a sincere attempt to ensure that ambulance response was maintained for emergencies and clinically critical patients, throughout the planned day of action.

The Trust recognises and accepts your right to ballot for and take industrial action. I acknowledge the importance and depth of feeling around the issues on which you were balloted for industrial action. While agreed outcomes have not been reached on any of those particular issues, I can assure you that we are committed to finding resolutions that will be both practical and sustainable.

As Chief Executive of NIAS I am charged with ensuring adequate levels of ambulance cover to protect patients who have need of our service. It was in that context, and only in that context, that a major incident was declared.

Discussions, relating to the maintenance of emergency services to patients, with Trade Unions at a regional level had resulted in an agreed Memorandum of Understanding on 6 March whereby emergency services were to be protected. This agreement had enabled ambulance staff to participate in previous industrial action while maintaining emergency cover and public safety.

In line with these regional agreements the Trust cancelled non-emergency patients and facilitated industrial action for non-emergency and administrative staff.

The situation changed following meeting with local branches whereby the Trust was informed that ambulance staff were reserving the right to totally withdraw labour or, alternatively, provide cover for Category A patients only, which you will be aware covers only 40% of emergency services to patients.

Discussions continued throughout the week and NIAS continued to develop contingency plans to maintain an emergency service to the public. By mid-afternoon on Thursday, the Trust was in a position whereby it was left with a degree of external support and an understanding that NIAS crews on duty supporting industrial action would respond to Category A calls. The levels of ambulance cover projected as being available at that time were sufficient to maintain limited emergency cover.

Late on Thursday afternoon, Resource Management Centre (RMC) reported that it had been receiving calls from staff, who were due to start the night shift, that they would be “withdrawing their labour” at midnight. It soon became evident that the Trust would not have been able to provide safe patient care from midnight and there was no option but to declare a major incident.

Channels of communication with Trade Union officials were maintained through the planning stage leading to the day of action, throughout the actual day and remain in place to discuss any issues that have arisen from the day.

On the Friday, Trust management met with Trade Union officials to discuss the situation and to seek a way forward that would facilitate staff supporting and participating in industrial action while maintaining adequate levels of cover for emergency care. The Trust sought to have an assurance that crews, should the major incident be declared over, would remain on duty and cover Category A and B calls. It was agreed that staff on duty would be canvassed for their views. Initial contact by Trade Unions was followed up with a direct contact with staff via MDT but this did not provide assurance of adequate levels of emergency cover, so the Major Incident remained in place.

I am in no doubt that relations between staff and NIAS, and between trade union representatives and NIAS have been seriously tested and damaged by these events. I want to try and repair relationships and rebuild them so that we can continue to pursue the same aim of ensuring that patients who need the ambulance service receive the highest levels of clinical care.

I would aim to meet as soon as possible to discuss a way forward for us to be able to demonstrate in a practical way our recognition of your right to take, and support, industrial action while maintaining emergency ambulance services for those who need us most. I believe that with goodwill on both sides this can be achieved.

I would, in closing, like to re-iterate that the declaration of a major incident, due to the critical levels of cover rendering us unable to provide a safe service, was regrettably the only course of action open to us at the time. I applaud your professionalism in the manner in which you dealt with patients throughout the day despite your obvious displeasure at the decision. I sincerely hope that engaging with you and your trade unions on this issue can usher in a new productive relationship which will allow us to approach with, renewed vigour, those outstanding issues, including A4C banding, rest periods, late finishes and leave, which have been on the agenda for too long.

Yours sincerely

Liam McIvor

Chief Executive

Press Statement Issued jointly on behalf of NIAS Trust and Trade Unions

Ref: Industrial Action 13 March 2015

  The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service has been advised by Trade Unions of the intention of their members to strike on Friday 13 th March. The Trust recognises and respects the right of staff to participate in Industrial Action alongside the need to engage with Trade Unions to maintain patient safety and emergency services.

Discussions with Regional representatives had resulted in an agreed protocol whereby gaps in cover for emergency services and activities would be further discussed with local Trade Union representatives.

Following productive discussions today with local Trade Union representatives where the Trust has been informed that staff will either,

•  exercise their right to completely withdraw their services for full or part of the day or

•  staff may report for duty and only respond to Category A (potentially life threatening) calls. (Where possible staff who wish to respond from a picket line will be facilitated.),

a joint Management and Trade Union statement has been issued to staff highlighting progress that has been made during the discussions.

This current position protects response to the most seriously ill, potentially life-threatening patients, however, it represents removal of the capacity of the ambulance service to respond to and transport to hospital urgent but not immediately life-threatening patients, which accounts for 60% of 999 calls.

In relation to non-emergency work, NIAS has identified areas of work which would still be considered clinically critical including palliative care patients, oncology patients, renal patients and paediatric patients, towards which PCS resources will be directed as appropriate. The Trust must now cancel all other PCS activity on the day of the strike and patients will be informed accordingly.

Ambulance control staff are also involved in the strike action and this may impact on the speed at which calls to the Control centre are answered.

NIAS and Trade Unions continue to engage in a process to identify measures to address gaps in cover for emergency services and will reconvene on Thursday in an effort to progress these matters.

 

END

10,000 Voices – your chance to influence the Future of Healthcare

Patient Experience is recognised as a key element in the delivery of quality healthcare. In line with this, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is carrying out an extensive piece of work across all Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCTs), with the aim of introducing a more patient-focused approach to services and shaping future healthcare in Northern Ireland.

This project, called ‘10,000 Voices‘, gives patients and staff, as well as their families and carers, the opportunity to share their overall experience and highlight anything important, such as what they particularly liked or disliked about the experience.

In partnership with the PHA, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) is seeking patient stories between now and the end of March 2014. The aim is to then gather and feed back the views of local patients on issues relating to the planning and funding of health services.

 

Liam McIvor, NIAS Chief Executive, launching the initiative, said;

“I support the 10,000 voices initiative and welcome the opportunity to introduce another means by which we hear directly from those who use our services so that we can listen and learn, and apply that learning to improve our service.”

Doctor David McManus, Medical Director and Lead Director in this area added:
“This is an opportunity for us to hear patient stories about their experience with NIAS and use them to influence and inform the future development of the service we provide to ensure it is truly patient-centred. I would therefore commend the project to you and ask for your support. “

 

Members of the public, staff, service users or patients who have been or who currently use our ambulance service and who wish to participate and tell their patient story or experience from any area within Northern Ireland can either complete the survey atwww.10000voices.info   or request a paper version of the survey or ask for information and support by calling telephone: 028 9032 1313 ext 2497 (office hours). This can then be returned, free of charge, in the envelope provided with the survey.

 

Ballymena Ambulance Station Update

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service are currently in the planning stages for construction of a new ambulance station hub with associated staff and administrative facilities, district headquarters, garaging and car parking on a green field site between Ballee Road West and the Antrim Road in Ballymena. The total area of the site is 0.7892 Hectares. The gross floor area of the actual building is 1840m 2 . This is made up from 1274m 2 of functional areas, 393.5m 2 of circulation areas and 182.5m 2 of storage.

BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings. The building is being designed to reach BREEAM Excellent status and is anticipated to achieve a score of 71.76%. This will be achieved through using innovative features such as a biomass boiler and LED lighting. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has become one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance. It encourages designers, clients and others to think about low carbon and low impact design, minimising the energy demands created by a building before considering energy efficiency and low carbon technologies.

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

The project costs are estimated to be £5,367,329 and of this. The costs of electrical and mechanical services are expected to be £492,000 and £355,000 respectively. The electricity usage is predicted to be 90,000kWh a year which would equate to £8.70/m 2 but there is not anticipated to be any fossil fuel usage as the Biomass boiler will take the average heating load and gas will only be used as a backup. The predicted water usage is 18.25m 3 /person/year.

The new building will provide a great environment both for crews who are out on the road and administration staff who will also be based there. The Ambulance Service is using this opportunity to create an identity for itself. The colours used will reflect those of the ambulance service which will distinguish NIAS as a brand. This colour scheme and associated design elements will then be rolled out through any further construction works. This will put NIAS forward as an important civic entity and elevate it’s status among the wider public.