The winter months are traditionally one of the busiest times of year for the NHS due to increases in cold weather-related illnesses and injuries such as flu, trips and falls.
To prepare for the predicted onslaught, East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) have taken several steps to prepare.
Six new permanent Clinical Navigators will be based at Lincoln County Hospital and Boston Pilgrim Hospital, seven days a week or 12-hour shift over peak times to mimimise waiting times, as well as the recruitment of two Pathway Leads to help patients avoid attending the emergency departments if possible.
EMAS is also working with LIVES First Responders to deploy additional senior clinicians into the Lincolnshire 999 control room or remotely during peak periods to work alongside Specialist Practitioners in identifying patients waiting for an ambulance who would benefit from receiving care elsewhere.
On top of this, 110 brand new ambulances are being rolled out across EMAS to replace older vehicles and new frontline ambulance crews have been recruited and trained, as well as 60 additional 999 call handlers.
Additional Specialist Practitioners will continue to be recruited to EMAS to support with senior clinical triage of patients both in person and over the phone, to help patients access the right care at the right time.
GP and Air Ambulance doctors are also doing shifts in EMAS control rooms to provide support to frontline ambulance crews when they need a second opinion about patients.
From early December, staff welfare vehicles will be stationed at hospital emergency departments in the region to offer staff hot drinks and a safe place to have a quick break during their shift.
Sue Cousland, Divisional Director for Lincolnshire, explained that our patients and our staff would continue to be our key focus throughout the winter months.
She said: “This winter it is more important than ever that we work with our NHS system partners to ensure we are able to provide the best care possible to the patients who really need us, as well as looking after our staff during this period of increased demand.
“Thanks to some additional funding, we are recruiting to a variety of new roles in time for the winter period, with a real focus on ensuring only patients who genuinely need an ambulance receive one and patients who would benefit from receiving care from a different and more appropriate service are supported to do so.
“We also continue to work daily with our NHS system partners to reduce hospital handover delays so our highly-skilled ambulance crews can be back out in the community as quickly as possible to attend the next patient needing emergency help.”
The public are urged to help EMAS during this busy time by practicing self-care and utilising their local pharmacies, GP surgery, NHS111 online or Urgent Treatment Centres, and only calling 999 in genuinely life-threatening emergencies.