Welsh Government announces a “flying doctors” service for Wales
A new clinical emergency service to stabilise and transfer the most critically-ill and injured patients to hospital by road and air, ensuring they receive the best life-saving care, will be operational in Wales from April 2015, Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething announced yesterday.
The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service Cymru (EMRTS Cymru) is the first national service of its kind in the UK and has been developed using the latest evidence from military and civilian experience.
The service is designed to bring teams of doctors to an injured patient, giving them access to life-saving treatment at the scene of their injury or accident.
It is estimated EMRTS Cymru could contribute to at least a 40% improvement in survival rates from major trauma in Wales and could reduce transfer times to specialist hospital care by more than 40%.
The introduction of the new service, which will serve all Wales, will mean 95% of the population will be able to access doctor-led care within 30 minutes.
The EMRTS Cymru service will be delivered by a team of highly-trained NHS doctors from emergency medicine, anaesthesia and intensive care working jointly with critical care paramedics from the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
It will be delivered in partnership with the Wales Air Ambulance charity, using its existing three air ambulances. The EMRTS service will provide NHS consultants to Wales Air Ambulance flights – it will be in addition to the charity’s existing helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) operations across Wales.
Deputy Minister for Health Vaughan Gething said:
“This new service will transform our ability to provide the very best care to the most critically-ill patients in Wales. It will provide patients in remote and rural areas of Wales with rapid access to the skills of a consultant in emergency or intensive care medicine, who are equipped to provide life-saving, specialist critical care.
“Our aim for specialist emergency services in Wales is for the most seriously-injured and sick patients to be treated by the very best clinicians, providing world-class, life-saving treatment. These highly-specialised services will be provided at a fewer number of hospitals in the future but they will be supported by a wider network of local hospitals, offering people access to local accident and emergency care.
“The EMRTS Cymru service I am delighted to be announcing today will ensure patients have access these services at the most appropriate specialist site in a timely manner, ensuring improved patient outcomes.
“We look forward to working alongside Wales Air Ambulance in delivering this new service.”
The establishment of EMRTS Cymru will support the reconfiguration of specialist services in Wales, ensuring that emergency services for the sickest and most seriously-injured patients are safe and sustainable for the future, while also improving clinical outcomes for patients.
EMRTS Cymru will be responsible for:
- Responding to medical and traumatic emergencies at the scene, including the provision of medical support at major incidents and mass casualty events;
- Stabilisation and retrieval of time-critical patients from district general hospitals to specialist centres;
- Critical care support providing enhanced stabilisation and transfer of mothers and babies;
- Provide road and air support to rapidly transfer neonatal teams to time-critical life threatening emergencies.
- Paediatric retrieval – transfer of time-critical patients, currently undertaken by the referring hospital.
Angela Hughes, chief executive of Wales Air Ambulance, said:
“To secure NHS consultants on board our flights is a remarkable leap forward in providing one of the most advanced air ambulance services in the world.
“Over the last few years we have received incredible support from our fundraisers to upgrade our three helicopters and trial night flights, and the addition of doctors to all Wales Air Ambulance flights is another fantastic development in our service to people across Wales.”
EMRTS Cymru will be co-ordinated from a new hub being developed by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, which will be staffed by paramedics, supported by NHS consultants.
The service, which will be operational from late April 2015, will have two bases at Swansea and Welshpool, which will provide air and road services for 12 hours a day – from these two bases it will be able to reach 95% of the population by air and 46% by road within 30 minutes. As part of the service, a consultant lead and deputy lead will be based at the Caernarfon base to support its development.
The Welsh Government has earmarked capital funding of £1.895m in 2014-15 to set up the service, and recurrent revenue funding of £2.868m from 2015-16 to support the EMRTS Cymru service.
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