New ambulance service for terminally ill patients in the North East

Tina Thompson, North East Macmillan partnership manager, Dawn Orr, nurse consultant, and Alison Kimber, clinical services manager at NEAS.
Tina Thompson, North East Macmillan partnership manager, Dawn Orr, nurse consultant, and Alison Kimber, clinical services manager at NEAS.

A specialist ambulance service will soon be available to respect the wishes of terminally ill patients.

The Macmillan Supportive, Palliative and End of Life Service, a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NCEAS), is believed to be the first of its kind across the North, and is set to launch at the start of 2018.

Macmillan has invested £350,000 funding over a three-year period, to enable NEAS to recruit three new roles: A Macmillan nurse facilitator, a Macmillan engagement officer and an admin support role.

Working from within the NEAS, they will be equipping ambulance staff with the specialist skills necessary to support terminally ill patients.

Tina Thompson, Macmillan partnership manager in the North East, said: “We’re really pleased to have linked up with the North East Ambulance Service and are confident this work will make a huge difference to people with cancer.”

It is also hoped the service will allow more patients to be cared for at home, preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.

Tina added: “Our research has highlighted numerous issues around the UK, such as people with cancer not being able to die at home, or not receiving adequate pain relief.

“These problems can be addressed when staff are given specialist care skills to provide excellent support for people at the end of their lives, and those around them.”

Alison Kimber, clinical services manager at NEAS, said: “Currently patients who call 999 or NHS111 for support will receive an ambulance due to the complexities of their conditions, which will usually result in them attending an emergency department, regardless of that patient’s wishes.

“This funding from Macmillan allows us to introduce palliative care expertise into the ambulance service, thereby enabling us to provide a more appropriate responsive service within the community for those patients to better meet their needs and wishes.”

Money from Macmillan used to fund the new staff at the North East Ambulance Service has been raised thanks to donations from the public.