Presented at a meeting of the Isle of Wight NHS Trust’s board last week, the new strategy will see the Island’s current partnership with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) evolving to provide the best, appropriate response for Islanders.
Nikki Turner, the trust’s director of transformation, said principles, work programmes and the trust’s visions have all been aligned to explore new roles and ways of working.
A key part of the strategy is a different approach to responding to calls, so that non-emergency calls can be dealt with through other emergency care pathways if appropriate. This will free up the Island’s limited ambulance resources and ensure patients get the right treatment with the most relevant specialists in the right place.
Mark Ainsworth, SCAS director of operations, said on the mainland they had found they were sending fewer ambulances out to calls but were getting positive feedback from patients. For example, if a patient falls at home, it might be better to send a physiotherapist instead of an ambulance crew.
It is something that the Isle of Wight NHS Trust has been working on through the rollout of their ‘Think 111 first’ campaign, where an ambulance may not be the answer to what people call for.
Joe Smyth, trust chief operating officer, said through the 111 initiative the number of patients being booked into the Emergency Treatment Centre at St Mary’s had increased tenfold since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with about 700 patients now coming in having spoken to 111.
Mr Smyth said there would always be more resources required on the Island for the ambulance service – which is the smallest in the country – and said at night it only takes 2 people to fall ill for a third of the ambulance fleet to be out of action.
Another challenge faced by the ambulance service is the geography it covers, which at times has led to longer response times. To offset the issue, the new strategy would try to connect callers either via phone or digitally, when appropriate, so the need to travel was reduced.
Overall, he said, the strategy’s vision is for ‘high-quality, compassionate care that makes a positive difference to our Island community’.