Planning the future of the Trust’s 999 control centres

Friday, 19 September, 2014


South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust will be outlining its plans for coping with future increases in 999 calls at its Annual Members Meeting.

The Trust will be sharing its plans to reshape its 999 control centre provision at the meeting which will be held at The Orchard Venue in East Malling, Kent, on Thursday, 25 September.

Open to the public, people will have an opportunity to speak to the team looking to develop plans for the Trust to move from three emergency operation centres (EOCs) to two, which will increase capacity and in turn staff numbers.

The Trust is looking to locate the two centres in Kent and on the Surrey/Sussex border; with a new headquarters to co-locate with the Surrey/Sussex EOC.

While it is not known at this stage where the centres will be located, the Trust is committed to making this move which will bring it in line with the majority of other ambulance trusts around the country which have two EOCs.

Acting Assistant Director of Clinical Operations, Sue Skelton said: “Our EOCs have reached capacity.  We are undertaking some remedial work to ensure that can continue to provide a safe service in the short term but we do need to find a long-term solution to the problem within the next few years.

“We have seen 999 calls increase by 25 per cent since 2007 and with demand forecast to increase by five per cent year-on-year, we can’t afford to do nothing.”

The Trust looked at the possibility of maintaining three smaller EOCs as well as one larger EOC.  However, this was ruled out as there is good evidence which shows that having fewer but larger EOCs improves staff performance and reduces variation.  The Trust also needs to be mindful of costs particularly in these challenging financial times.

By introducing two EOCs, the Trust believes it will have a better resilience and be cost effective.  There will be an opportunity to manage the growing number of non-urgent calls more appropriately.

Sue added: “The new centres will have the capacity to allow more clinicians to be on hand to help direct patients to the right healthcare. 

“We would also have better resilience if one of the EOCs was forced out of action. The centres would have the capacity to take the additional calls but equally the staff to answer them.”

Over the coming months the Trust will be informing the public, stakeholders and staff about these plans and what it will mean for the Trust and the community it serves.

Sue add: “The public should be reassured that this propose changes will not have an impact on the way we deliver the service, in fact it will serve to improve the service we offer while providing facilities that staff can feel proud to work in.”

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