A company which provides an ambulance service to transfer critically ill children has been named NHS North West Supplier of the Year.
The company, Falck Medical Services, works with a dedicated team of specialist NHS doctors and nurses to provide the North West and North Wales Transport Service, NWTS.
Falck won the top prize at the annual NHS in the North West Excellence in Supply Awards, sponsored by the Innovation Agency.
Their team of eight trained drivers operate two specially equipped dedicated ambulances, on constant standby at the NWTS base in, Warrington. The NWTS team respond to calls from district general hospitals in the region, who admit and stabilise critically sick children but have no specialist children’s intensive care units. These children need to be transferred to one of the two children’s hospitals in the region, either Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool or the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
The NWTS team will on occasions transfer children out of the region, either for additional specialist care or when there are no beds available locally. This can often involve long distance journeys for the ambulance crew.
NWTS Regional Clinical Nurse Manager Sarah Santo said: “The difference the service makes to the care of a critically ill child is that the children get specialist, dedicated care sooner – and time is of the essence.
“The team of drivers are fantastic, with additional training and experience they are now an essential part of the clinical team, anticipating the clinical team’s needs. They have an in depth knowledge of the equipment and kit required. They are so experienced and caring and have built up such a lot of knowledge, they are brilliant.
“The ambulance crew will communicate with the parents when the clinical team are busy with the child; making sure they have the necessary information and that they are looking after themselves.”
Before the service was set up six years ago, children would be transferred by ambulances staffed by paramedics as well as a nurse or doctor from one of the hospitals. The NWTS service – referred to as ‘newts’ - combines a team of dedicated drivers and specialist NHS staff – removing the need to bring in staff from a hospital or ambulance service.
Falck Medical Services’ Regional Manager Rachel Penney said: “As the reputation of the service has spread and the demand has grown, our team has expanded and we have recently recruited two more drivers, which means they can save even more lives.
“I am really, really proud of ‘NWTS; it is so rewarding to be part of a service which saves children’s lives. The drivers are a very tight knit team who do much more than drive; they are so experienced they know what the consultants need and also they comfort relatives and provide them with hot drinks and snacks – they provide a fantastic service.”
The ambulances have been designed with input from clinicians at both specialist children’s hospitals, with a screen on the ceiling showing children’s cartoons and movies; welcoming décor with animal pictures and coloured lights and containing all necessary equipment, plus an extra seat for parents and snack packs, drink holders and mobile chargers.
A referral line single point of contact is provided so that doctors in any hospital in the North West, Isle of Man and North Wales can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive expert clinical advice – and request a transfer if needed.
Falck Medical Services received the Patient Experience Award at the Excellence in Supply Awards, organised by NW Procurement Development – a professional network for NHS procurement teams. They were then named as NHS North West Supplier of the Year – the overall prize for the company having the biggest impact on NHS procurement in the region.
Chair of NHS North West Procurement Development and Chief Executive of event sponsors the Innovation Agency, Dr Liz Mear said:
“Hearing from the overall winner about the impact they are having on the lives of young patients and their families was inspirational. It just shows what can be done by a different approach to procuring services in the NHS; all the winners are innovative as well as dedicated to providing the best possible care to residents in our region and I applaud them all.”
NW Procurement Development Director Mick Guymer said: "While procurement has traditionally been viewed as a Cinderella profession in the health service, our awards and programme of work to promote supplier engagement - which are unique in the NHS - allow examples such as this to shine through.
“The winners demonstrate how sourcing and working with high quality suppliers can make a real difference to people’s lives. Congratulations to Falck Medical Services.”
Further information from:
Caroline Kenyon at the Innovation Agency on 01772 520280 / 07950 866394
Notes to editors:
NW Procurement Development was established to support the delivery of high quality and safe patient care by developing and providing efficient and contemporary procurement functions, managed by highly trained, knowledgeable and competent staff.
The Innovation Agency is the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast region and part of the NHS, covering Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and south Cumbria. Its role is to support health systems to improve the health outcomes of their local communities. The aim is to maximise the NHS’s contribution to economic growth by enabling and being catalysts for change through collaboration and the spread of innovation and best practice.