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HSC News Stories

Have Your Say! HSC Collective Leadership Strategy

Have Your Say! HSC Collective LeadershipThe HSC Collective Leadership Strategy was launched on 18 October 2017.

Have your Say on what the new Core Values and Behaviours for HSC are, follow the link and complete the survey.


Your feedback will be used to inform the final set of values and associated behaviours for HSC! 

For more information please click to view the Interactive Brochure

Northern Ireland Paramedics get formal recognition as Allied Health Professionals (AHP)

Northern Ireland Paramedics get formal recognition as Allied Health Professionals (AHP)

Paramedics have been formally recognised as members of the Allied Health Professional (AHP) group by the Department of Health (DoH).

The move follows recent discussions with the Department of Health Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly, DoH officials and the NI Ambulance Service (NIAS).

Richard Pengelly welcomed the change.  “Formal recognition of paramedics in Northern Ireland is essential to professionalise the profession so paramedics know just how much they are valued as members of the Health Service.

“This recognition will align paramedics with other AHP colleagues and their peers in the rest of the UK, and recognise the contribution paramedics currently make as inter-professional clinicians working across urgent, emergency, primary and community care provision here.

“This change is also in line with the values within the new DoH Workforce Strategy.  It is important that paramedics feel supported in their challenging roles and this move will assist in that.

“Over recent years paramedics have taken responsibility for greater clinical decision making and are providing an increasing range of interventions as part of the wider transformational agenda. This is being underpinned by the move to Higher education for paramedic practice. By including paramedics as AHPs will enable them to expand their networks within the wider group of other AHP professions.”

Michael Bloomfield, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, also welcomed the recognition of paramedics as Allied Health Professionals. He said: “Paramedics are, day and daily, the first contact that many patients have with the Health Service and often at times when they are most anxious and vulnerable, including requiring  the highest levels of clinical intervention due to trauma or medical emergencies. Paramedics are increasingly bringing the initial treatment to the patient at the scene of the emergency.

“This recognition is testament to the increasing role of paramedicine in the provision of health and social care within Northern Ireland. Paramedic Education has been evolving, and will continue to evolve, as part of the transformation agenda ensuring that those who have need of our service can be confident that their clinical care is delivered by individuals and teams operating to the highest professional standards.

“I congratulate all paramedics on having attained this recognition, which brings them into line with colleagues across the UK, and would like to thank everyone involved in bringing about this AHP recognition.”

The Allied Health Professions (AHP) currently consists of 12 distinct and unique disciplines. These professionals provide key services and add critical value across primary and secondary prevention, diagnostics, treatment and care.

Hazel Winning, the AHP lead in DoH who has worked with NIAS to deliver this recognition, said: “The professional recognition decision would bring opportunities across the health service and has the potential to influence patient pathways and make huge differences to patients’ lives.  It can help make use of skills to develop a more flexible workforce and provide more responsive services to service users.”

Northern Ireland Paramedics get formal recognition as Allied Health Professionals (AHP)

Take a bow, Dominic Mackle and Nick Hawryliw, winners of outstanding Bravery Award in the Glens and Causeway area.

Dominic and Nick with their awardWe are delighted that two of our staff walked away with the “Outstanding Bravery” award in the Causeway Coast and Glens People of the year Awards 2018.
On Bank Holiday Monday on 19 March, Paramedic Dominic Mackle and Emergency Medical Technician Nick Hawryliw, based in Ballycastle Ambulance Station, were tasked to attend an incident involving a 22 year old male who had fallen 60 feet onto the cliffs whilst abseiling off Torr Head close to Murlough Bay.
The Outstanding Bravery AwardThey were unable to bring the ambulance as close to the incident as they would have liked and commenced their rescue operation by having to trek, carrying their heavy equipment, across wet, muddy and rocky terrain to reach the top of the cliff. Knowing that the patient’s injuries were potentially life threatening after falling such a distance, they decided that they had to get to him as soon as possible to carry out an effective assessment and so they started down the cliff.
As they got closer they began to realise how precariously the patient was positioned and knew they had taken the right decision to climb down. An initial assessment revealed that he had sustained chest injuries during the fall and was finding it extremely difficult to breathe.
Working as a team, Nick quickly protected the patient’s neck and spine allowing Dominic to carry out paramedic interventions to treat a bi-lateral pneumothorax. This treatment involves inserting needles into the patient’s chest and is difficult to perform in a stable clinical environment but is much more complicated in the situation where they found themselves – at the bottom of a cliff in poor weather conditions. Their ability to perform this life-saving technique under such conditions was nothing short of extraordinary.
Dominic and Nick with their awardDominic and Nick continued to treat and reassure the patient that everything was going to be ok while waiting for the Coastguard to arrive. On their watch, he was getting out of there safe!
Working together, the coastguard and the ambulance crew soon had the patient on board the helicopter. Dominic was also hoisted into the helicopter and continued his treatment until their arrival at the RVH in Belfast.
Their actions on this day speak of them as not only consummate professionals but of them as human beings who care deeply for others who find themselves in hopeless and dangerous situations. They could have, in their risk assessment, decided to stay at the top of the cliff and wait for assistance from the Coastguard. But they sensed immediate danger and they decided they had to do something more.
Dominic and Nick with their awardTheir decision to scale down the cliff face was the major factor in this young man’s survival. Their treatment further ensured it. Their arrival and presence would undoubtedly have brought a feeling of hope to him in his hour of need and their staying with him until he reached the Royal would have made him realise that he was always going to have someone at his side who were totally invested in ensuring that he was going to come to no further harm.
Congratulations to Dominic and Nick. You are now officially heroes and we are so proud of you.

NIAS & AANI Spring Review Report of HEMS

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and Air Ambulance Northern Ireland Charity release joint Spring Review report of THE HELICOPTER EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICE (HEMS)

  • HEMS has responded to 297 calls since July 2017 
  • 80.7% of incidents reached within 20 minutes 
  • HEMS available for 97.2% of operational hours versus UK best practice of 91% 
  • The charity Air Ambulance NI has raised in excess of £1 million to support HEMS within 22 months

Today the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) and the charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI), have jointly issued a Spring Review Report of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, revealing positive progress in meeting the objective to deliver a doctor/ paramedic service as a partnership.

The report reviews the performance of the service against agreed objectives, service quality standards and targets benchmarked against the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) framework for a High Performing Air Ambulance Service.

The primary role of HEMS, which went live at the end of July 2017, is to deliver advanced pre-hospital care, benefitting those whose lives are at risk following serious trauma by bringing highly specialised medical care directly to the patient at the scene.

Up until the end of March 2018, the air ambulance has responded to 297 calls - approximately 1-2 cases per day. Most of the responses to incidents are by air in the helicopter but the HEMS team also has a rapid response car for times when the helicopter is not able to fly due to weather conditions etc., or the incident is in close proximity to their base.

The report reveals that 80.7% of incidents were reached by the air ambulance within 20 minutes. The service responds to severely ill or injured patients and operates a daylight service from 7am -7pm, seven days per week from its base in Lisburn. It aims to reach any part of Northern Ireland in approximately thirty minutes.

Overall the helicopter has been available for 97.2% of its operational hours, exceeding UK best practice across other UK services whereby air operations should be available for 91% of the operational hours.

Commenting on the report, NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield, said:

"NIAS has been working together with our charity partner, Air Ambulance NI, to deliver this doctor/paramedic helicopter emergency medical service.  We welcome the opportunity to publish this first report detailing the excellent progress the service has made in the first nine months since it was established. This is thanks to the dedicated team of doctors and paramedics providing the medical service and the charity staff who continue to work on supporting the service through their fundraising efforts and engagement of hundreds of volunteers in the background to provide the helicopters and pilots.  Together we will continue to ensure that this vital service delivers the highest quality in patient care for those in the pre-hospital emergency environment and we are excited and proud to be part of such an important service which is saving lives".

Air Ambulance NI needs to raise £2million each year to maintain this service so funding and public donations are crucial. As a new charity, AANI set out an ambitious objective to raise £1million in the first 22 months to match grant funding. Public support has meant that this target has been reached more quickly than expected, although there is still a long way to go to ensure the £1m is doubled to £2m and that it can be achieved annually and consistently.

Based on the fundraising performance in year 1, the charity is confident that, with continued and further support from the public, it will raise enough funds by year 3 to fully fund year 4 costs for the first time.

Ian Crowe, Chairman, for the charity, comments on the performance:

"As Air Ambulance NI approaches its first year of operational service for the citizens and visitors of Northern Ireland I would like to take this opportunity to thank our operational partners NIAS especially our Doctors and Paramedics for their professional commitment not only during their duty shift but for the support and promotion of the charity through this time. Our aviation providers Babcock MCS have maintained a high level of aircraft availability and working closely with them this level of consistency will be improved. The AANI charity team are looking forward to increasing the awareness for the Charity in the coming months and years with public engagement and community events growing every week. AANI is establishing itself as a charity worthy of support and one of the easiest ways to do this is by becoming a member of Club AANI at www.airambulanceni.org"

The full report is available to view and download here: http://www.airambulanceni.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/NIAS-AANI-Spring-review-March-2018.pdf

NIAS Equality Forum

NIAS Equality Forum

Equality and inclusivity were centre-stage today when the Trust’s new voluntary Women’s Forum and LGBT Forum met under the NIAS Equality Forum.

The Women’s Forum and LGBT Forum are NIAS-initiatives to help implement the Trust’s Equality Action Plan 2018-23.

Colleagues got together in NIAS headquarters to start developing discussions which, in due course, will roll out across the Trust.

Anyone wishing to get involved can get more information from participating colleagues, or else send an email request through the NIAS Equality Forum to: Martina.Black@nias.hscni.net

New NIAS Privacy Notice

Your Information, What You Need to Know

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) was established by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Services Trust (Establishment) Order (Northern Ireland) 1995 as amended by the Health and Social Services Trusts (Establishment) (Amendment) Order (NI) 2008 and Section 1 of the Health and Social Care (Reform) Act (NI) 2009.

NIAS covers an area of over 5,450 square miles with a population of over 1.8 million people in the pre-hospital environment, serviced by a fleet of over 313 ambulance vehicles.  It directly employs in excess of 1200 staff across - maybe use across or over59 ambulance stations and deployment points.  NIAS has one Emergency Ambulance Control Centre (EAC) based in Knockbracken in Belfast and one non-Emergency Control Centre (NEAC) based in Altnagelvin in Londonderry.   A Regional Education and Training Centre (RATC) along with a Headquarters building is also situated in Belfast.

NIAS provide ambulance care, treatment, referral pathways, and transportation services to the people of Northern Ireland 24 hours per day/7 days per week/365 days per year.

The services we provide can be categorised as:

  • Emergency Services
  • Patient Care Service
  • Managing Major Incidents
  • Managing Clinical Conditions
  • Community Engagement and Education

NIAS is a registered “Data Controller”. Information Commissioner Office (ICO) Registration No. Z5545963

This notice explains how we use and share your information. Information may be collected on paper, or online form, telephone, email, CCTV or by a member of our staff, or one of our partners.

We will continually review and update this privacy notice to reflect changes in our services and feedback from service users, as well as to comply with changes in the Law. When such changes occur, we will revise the “last updated” date as documented in the Version Control Section.


Data Controller Name: Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
Address: Site 30, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Saintfield Road, Belfast
Telephone: 028 9040 0999
Email:  reception@nias.hscni.net


Data Protection Officer Name: Alison Vitty
Telephone: 028 9040 0710
Email:  dataprotection@nias.hscni.net


Why are you processing my personal information?


Direct Care

In carrying out some of our services we may collect information about you which helps us to deliver a service to you eg.  responding to a 999 call and providing treatment or referral, or transporting you to Hospital . This is vital so that we can respond to you when required.  We may keep your information in written form and/or in digital form and also operate CCTV on ambulance. The records may include details about you, such as your name and address, age, gender and more sensitive information about your clinical condition or health.

We also record your 999 call when it is received and capture in most cases the telephone or mobile number we have received the call from.  This is to ensure we can re-contact you if the phone cuts out or more information is required.

We also have Clinical Support Desks operating in the Emergency Control Room and a trained Paramedic can speak to you and access aspects of your Electronic Care Record to support your ongoing clinical management at that time.

When we respond to you in an emergency we will also complete a paper record known as a Patient Report Form (PRF).  The attending crews will collect information such as name, home address, next of kin, GP details, mobile numbers, incident location, previous medical history along with recording other information associated with your clinical management such as observations, stats etc. If you require defibrillator monitoring then stats are recorded on this machine including your name, DOB, weight etc and capture heart rhythms, observations and can transmit ECGs.

In the Non-Emergency Control environment we need your name, address and some level of your medical condition and mobility to ensure that we can transport you appropriately to a Hospital appointment or to transport you home.

We also operate an Air Ambulance in Northern Ireland with Doctors and Paramedics.  These staff can also collect information about you or if a crew is already on scene they can share information already provided to treat you.



Advice and guidance is provided to care providers to ensure that adult and children’s safeguarding matters are managed appropriately. Access to identifiable information will be shared in some limited circumstances where it’s legally required for the safety of the individuals concerned.


Serious Incident Management

NIAS works with HSC Trusts to ensure effective governance and to learn from serious and interface incidents. The Francis Report (February 2013) emphasised providers had a responsibility for ensuring the quality of health services provided.


Frequent and Vulnerable Callers

Most individuals or organisations that contact the 999 system do so with legitimate healthcare requirements. However, identification and management of those persons / organisations who access emergency healthcare via the 999 service, on an abnormally high number of occasions can lead to the identification of individuals who are at risk, vulnerable or accessing the incorrect healthcare for their needs or the identification of organisations who have policies which over rely on the use of the ambulance service.  We have a duty to safeguard vulnerable people and to ensure that other high use organisations only use the ambulance service when appropriate.

NIAS extract reports that contains names, addresses, age, clinical condition etc and support the identification of these patients.  We have appointed a staff member who then liaises with you directly as a patient to get consent to liaise with other service users such as your GP, Social Workers etc.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are currently facilitating Support Hubs through Policing with the Community and which NIAS partakes in.  The Hubs, currently being established in council areas, allow the agencies involved to bring any vulnerable individual, with their consent, to a Multidisciplinary forum in order to support these often complex cases in a unified and effective manner.    Each Agency involved has signed an agreement to facilitate the sharing / disclosure of personal data and/or sensitive personal data. The current Agencies involved are: PSNI; Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), Housing Executive, Youth Justice Agency, Education Authority Northern Ireland, Probation Board for Northern Ireland, HSC Trusts.  Where appropriate, NIAS will be involved in these Hubs if frequent or vulnerable callers are identified that may benefit from inter-agency working or if individuals are brought to the Hub with consent from other agencies and they are known to NIAS as a Service User who may be vulnerable and may benefit from assistance in managing their Health Care needs.  Information shared will be in line with strict consent and governance protocols.


What categories of personal data are we processing?

Types of personal data Details
Individual details Name, home address, gender, age, date of birth next of kin details, GP details, telephone numbers (registered address to that number), health and social number, incident location,  X/Y variables, existing medical conditions, presenting medical condition
Special categories of personal data Certain categories of personal data have additional protection under the GDPR. The categories are health, criminal convictions, racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric or data concerning sex life or sexual orientation.

We will collect varying levels of data that may fall under this depending on what service we are providing to you.


Please note that if you have contacted NIAS or maybe a HCP professional has acted on your behalf we may hold a security code against your address to access your property, or may have information about a clinical condition that you may have which is needed to support the frontline staff attending you.

Information we collect is used to ensure we provide the best possible care. We consider a “record” to be information about providing health which identifies the patient or service user whether they are an adult or a child.

If you are child this leaflet will help you understand what you do with your information.


Where do you get my personal data from?

  • You
  • Your family members, employer or representative
  • Healthcare Professionals such as GPs, Consultants, Nurses, Social Workers etc
  • Business Services Organisation (BSO)
  • Other public bodies such as HSC Trusts, Police Service of Northern, NIFRS
  • British Telecom
  • Other organisations who you have given permission to share your information for the provision of the services we provide


Do you share my personal data with anyone else?

Yes.  We may engage the services of suppliers (data processors) to store and manage your information on our behalf. Where we have these arrangements, there is always a contract, memorandum of understanding or an information sharing agreement in place to ensure that the requirements of the GDPR on handling personal data are met eg, Business Services Organisation (BSO), Voluntary and Private contractors such as ProParamedics, Order of St Malta, JK, Red Cross etc.

Voluntary and Private contractors are used to support non-emergency transportation under a contract arrangement.  When on duty, NIAS EAC will allocate incidents to them to attend to.  When they arrive on scene, they also complete a Patient Report Form (PRF) and collect information about you to treat and transport you.  The PRF is then held directly by the voluntary and private contractor and if a request for information is received will be sourced from them.  All contracts have strong information governance requirements placed within.

We also use voluntary car drivers to transport non-emergency patients to Hospital and they are provided with details such as your name, address, Ward or Hospital you are attending to get you to your appointment.  They do not complete any medical records about you during this transportation.

Community First Responder schemes are also in operation across Northern Ireland.   They respond to suitable cardiac related calls.  The protocol is to page a first responder if a call is suitable for them to attend and they are provided with the incident number of the call, location of incident, what’s the problem, presenting clinical condition, age, category of call.

Sometimes, it is in line with our legal duties and in the interest of public safety to share information with other organisations such as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), NIFRS Service or HSC colleagues or social services. We may also share your personal information when there is a justifiable public safety and security reason. Examples are:

  • For the investigation, detection and prevention of crime or if we are required to do so by law eg. PSNI, Police Ombudsman, Coroners Service, Health and Safety Executive of NI, Harbour Police, Airport Police
  • Court Orders
  • If there are serious risks to the public, our staff or other professionals
  • To protect children or vulnerable adults eg safeguarding referrals, interface incidents


Do you transfer my personal data to other countries?

At this time no.   All data remains within the United Kingdom.  Sometimes it may be necessary to transfer personal information overseas. When this is needed information may be transferred to countries or territories around the world. Any transfers made will be in full compliance with all aspects of the GDPR.


How long do you keep my personal data?

We will only retain your data for as long as necessary to process (i.e. your rates) and in line with our Retention and Disposal Schedule.

For further information refer to the following Department of Health link:



Security of Your Information

NIAS is committed to taking all reasonable measures to ensure the security of all personal information it holds. The following arrangements are in place:

  • All NIAS staff have contractual obligations of confidentiality, enforceable through disciplinary procedurals
  • Everyone working for the HSC is subject to the common law duty of confidentiality
  • Staff are granted access to personal information as required to do their job on a day to day basis. Access is provided in accordance with relevant internal processes and appropriately recorded
  • NIAS has appointed a Data Protection Officer who provides advice and guidance in the area of protection and compliance with accountability under GDPR
  • NIAS has appointed a Senior Information Risk Owner (SIRO) who is accountable for the management of all information assets and any associated risks and incidents
  • NIAS has appointed a Caldicott Guardian and Personal Data Guardian who is responsible for ensuring confidentiality and security of service user information for the Trust
  • All staff are required to undertake information governance training on a regular basis
  • A range of policies and procedures are in place which are available on the Trust’s website


How Your Records Are Used to Help NIAS

We need your personal information in the main to respond to emergency and non-emergency incidents and to ensure we provide ambulance care, treatment and referral and transportation as required.

Your information may also be used to help assess the needs of the general population and make informed decisions about the provision of future services. Information can also be used to conduct health research and development and monitor HSC performance.

Where information is used for statistical purposes, stringent measures are taken to ensure individual patients cannot be identified. Anonymous statistical information may also be passed to organisations with a legitimate interest, including universities or the general public as part as Freedom of Information requests.

Where it is not sufficient to use anonymised information, person-identifiable information may be used, but only for essential HSC purposes. This may include research and auditing services. This will only be done with your consent, unless the law requires information to be passed on to improve public health.


What rights do I have?

Subject to an exemption under the GDPR, you have the following rights with respect to your personal data:


How do I complain if I am not happy?

If you would like to know more about how we use your information, or if (for any reason) you do not wish to have your information used in any of the ways described above, please contact:

Data Protection Officer Name:   Alison Vitty

Telephone:                               028 9040 0710

Email:                                      dataprotection@nias.hscni.net


NIAS Headquarters, Site 30

Knockbracken Healthcare Park

Saintfield Road




If you are still not happy, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO):

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Tel: 0303 123 1113

Email: casework@ico.org.uk


Assaults on Ambulance Staff Continue

There are over 400 assaults on staff from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) each year - more than one a day.

NIAS has a zero tolerance policy in relation to these assaults. Our staff should not be subject to such behaviour, especially while they are providing care to patients. The vast majority of these incidents are not reported in the media, but that does not make them any less concerning. All assaults on ambulance staff are totally unacceptable and result in a reduction in cover to respond to calls from people who depend on our service.

This past weekend saw a number of particularly serious assaults on our staff. On 19 and 20 May three instances occurred, two of which involved staff requiring hospital attention. In one of these, a member of our frontline staff who has given over 40 years service to the community sustained injuries to his head, arms and body when attacked outside a hospital emergency department. His assailant was restrained by hospital security staff until the PSNI arrived. This is now an ongoing investigation.

However it is not only our frontline staff who are abused. On Friday night, two EMDs and a Duty Control Manager experienced serious and unacceptable verbal abuse over three phone calls. Further action may be taken in these cases.

NIAS continues to work with Trade Unions and staff to ensure the appropriate levels of post incident care are provided to our staff who are victims of such abuse.

Commenting on these incidents, NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield, said:

“I am deeply concerned about the frequency and level of ongoing abuse and assaults towards our highly committed and professional staff. A survey published last week by the Department of Health in which almost 7000 patients commented on their experience from arriving at hospital until they left, showed that 98% of patients said that ambulance staff behaved in a polite and courteous manner, and the same number (98%) said ambulance staff showed them care and compassion. The vast majority of patients value our staff for the excellent work they do, however regrettably a small number do not show them the same level of courtesy. This is unacceptable and NIAS believe that anyone found guilty of attacks on our staff should face the full rigour of the law.

I wish our staff who were injured in these incidents a full and speedy recovery.

Ambulance staff work in a very challenging environment, and respond with professionalism to every call they are sent to, providing a high level of care to people at some of their most distressing and vulnerable times. Unfortunately when incidents such as these occur, the level of ambulance cover is reduced and patients who need our service may wait longer, sometimes for life threatening treatment. I therefore call on the public’s support and that of public representatives in helping us bring these assaults to an end.”

NIAS welcomes EU investment of €1.1 million in Community Paramedic Services

Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland to benefit from Community Paramedic services to enable care to be provided closer to a patient’s home 

This week has seen the formal launch of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded cross border Community Paramedic Project. Tony O’ Brien, Director General of the Republic of Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), was joined by representatives from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the HSE’s National Ambulance Service at the launch in Dublin.

This new collaboration between the three national ambulance services has been warmly welcomed and has resulted in the establishment of Community Paramedic services in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Community Paramedics associated with this project are undergoing specialised training accredited by Glasgow Caledonian University. The project has recently commenced and is enabling Community Paramedics to provide safe and effective care to patients in their own homes and communities and is already reducing unnecessary ambulance transports to emergency departments.

Pictured (from left to right) are: Bridget Clarke and Louise Potts, Cross Border CAWT Acute Project; Brian McNeill, Director of Operations, NI Ambulance Service; Bernie McCrory, Chief Officer, CAWT cross border health; Martin Dunne, Director, National Ambulance Service (Rep of Ireland); Wendy Quinn, Head of Service, Scottish Ambulance Service; Sean Murphy, General Manager, Letterkenny University Hospital and Michael Rooney, HSE.

The Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) Health and Social Care Partnership in collaboration with the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the National Ambulance Service in the Republic of Ireland developed the Community Paramedic Project bid for EU INTERREG VA funding which was successful in securing €1.1 million for an 18 month period.

The Project will target specific patient populations in remote and rural areas / border areas of the three regions. The four pilot localities which have been identified for this scheme include Castlederg, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland; Buncrana, Co. Donegal and Clones, Co. Monaghan in the border region of the Republic of Ireland; and the Argyle & Bute region in SW Scotland.

In addition to providing Community Paramedic training to eligible individuals, the EU funding is being used to invest in new rapid response vehicles for the pilot areas in the three ambulance regions. These vehicles are fitted out specifically to provide care to patients in their homes or their community. This means that, within the pilot areas, more patients can be treated at home instead of having to be transported by ambulance to hospital emergency departments.

Commenting on this initiative, Michael Bloomfield, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: “At a time when Health and Social Care is experiencing unprecedented demand which manifests itself in extreme pressure in Emergency Departments, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is delighted to be participating in this initiative enabling Paramedics to work closely with other healthcare professionals within rural and border area communities. The greatest benefits will be felt by patients themselves who will receive the appropriate assessment and treatment in their homes, if admission to hospital is not the deemed appropriate. NIAS welcomes the introduction of this enhanced Paramedic role as it offers an excellent opportunity for career progression for staff.”

Community Paramedics participants from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service who are undergoing specialist training as part of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded CAWT cross border Community Paramedic Project. In the vehicle (left to right): Mark Sheerin, Community Paramedic, Buncrana Primary Care Centre and Damian Muldoon, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre. Standing at the front (left to right): Anne McDermott, Community Paramedic, Buncrana Primary Care Centre; Brendan Finan, Community Paramedic, Clones GP Practice and Declan Smith, Community Paramedic, Clones GP Practice. Standing at the back (left to right): Caroline French, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre and Scott Ramsey, Community Paramedic, Scottish Ambulance Service.

Speaking at the launch event in Dublin, Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE welcomed this new initiative, which allows Paramedics to broaden the routine healthcare services they provide and will help to improve rural urgent medical services. He said: "Emergency Care pressures are a constant challenge for all health systems in Europe. This innovative project, enabled by EU funding and collaboration with other member states, is a good example of how we can ensure patients receive the right care in the right place while also easing some of the pressures on our Hospital Emergency Departments.  I have no doubt that it will be successful and that we will be rolling it out across Ireland as a key part of our Urgent and Emergency Care system in the coming years."

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “The EU’s INTERREG VA Programme provides funding to organisations that can implement joint cross-border solutions to issues that affect citizens living in the border region. This project, involving ambulance services working together, will enhance the health and social care of citizens living in more rural and isolated areas and will enable the transition from tra

ditional institution-based service provision to a more community-based approach.”

The launch was attended by project participants and stakeholders from all three regions.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by both Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland and by the Scottish Government.

NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) Community Paramedics at the launch of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded CAWT cross border Community Paramedic Project involving the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service. Pictured are Damian Muldoon and Caroline French, Community Paramedics from Castlederg Primary Care Centre, Co. Tyrone.
NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) representatives at the launch of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded CAWT cross border Community Paramedic Project involving the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service. Pictured (from left to right): Caroline French, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre, Co.Tyrone; Brian McNeill, Director of Operations, NIAS; Laura Coulter, Area Manager, Altnagelvin Ambulance Station, NIAS; Frank Orr, Assistant Director, NIAS and Damian Muldoon, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre, Co.Tyrone.

Ambulance crew threatened with imitation firearm

A male has been arrested and charged after threatening an ambulance crew with, what turned out to be, an imitation firearm on Thursday 16 November.

The crew was responding to reports of a sudden death in the Montgomery Road area of East Belfast at 8 pm. However when the crew arrived at the scene they discovered that the call was, in fact, a bogus one. They were met by a male person and after a short time found a female in another room. The male then left the premises and returned a short time later, brandishing the imitation firearm in a threatening manner towards the crew.

One crew member was able to disarm the male and called for assistance from PSNI who arrived promptly and arrested the individual. The member of staff who disarmed the assailant suffered a back injury in so doing.

This is the latest in a series of incidents involving attacks, or threats of attack, on our crews and this particular one was a lot more sinister in nature with the call being bogus and an imitation firearm being produced.

Given the circumstances involved in this incident, NIAS would reiterate its call that anyone involved in any type of assault on our crews should face the full rigours of the law, especially if they have been called to a scene under false pretences. Our staff are there to provide help to the helpless and to remove fear from the fearful and yet all too often they are being faced with situations which are becoming more serious in nature.

Systems Testing in Ambulance Control Room 18 October 2017

EMD in Control Room

In order to facilitate essential maintenance and testing within Emergency Ambulance Control, the Northern Ireland Ambulance has planned a major business continuity test on Wednesday 18 October.

The purpose of the test is to examine the electrical cabling system to identify potential faults.

NIAS receives over 200,000 emergency calls per year and when added to the other 600,000 calls in and out of the control room from Healthcare Professionals, staff and others, the reliance on a fully functional system becomes obvious. Should the system fail without warning the risks are obvious.

In planning the test and implementing business continuity plans, NIAS has ensured a greater measure of control in closing down the system.  The contingency plans include moving operations to a secondary site for the duration of the test.

The testing will last approximately 12 hours and the system will then be powered up. During the period of testing, callers to our 999 service will be dealt with in the same efficient manner as would normally be the case. Callers will be taken through the same processes as before and, as always, NIAS will endeavour to provide the most appropriate response to all calls.

Our triage system aims to provide the quickest response to the sickest patient and will strive to continue to so do. But as always we would ask for the help of all within the community by ensuring that we are called only in real emergencies.

Systems within Headquarters will also be affected including the telephone system. However, for general queries that would normally go through the switchboard at reception a temporary number has been established - 07917 093012.