A leading medical director has been back to see first hand the progress being made on a specialist hospital due to open in the county this summer.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director of NHS England, was at the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital being built near Cramlington.
The hospital, due to open in June, will have emergency care consultants on site 24/7 dealing with seriously ill or injured patients.
It has been developed by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to save more lives and improve clinical outcomes.
Sir Bruce said: “This is all about ensuring patients with complicated needs or life threatening conditions get to a centre with the appropriate expertise in place.
“The challenges facing A&E services are immense and our vision is very much in line with what Northumbria Healthcare have been developing.”
“It is testament to the clinical teams at Northumbria, who began thinking about their new model of emergency care many years ago, that the north east is now well ahead of other parts of the NHS in making the national vision for urgent and emergency care, a reality for patients.”
Separating emergency care from planned care will also benefit patients at North Tyneside, Wansbeck and Hexham general hospitals.
Trust officials say they will become centres of excellence for planned operations and all outpatient clinics and planned diagnostics will take place there.
Urgent care 24 hour walk-in services at the general hospitals will also continue to treat patients with less serious conditions, and patients will be seen quicker as a result of serious emergencies being treated at the new Northumbria hospital.
This is all about ensuring patients with complicated needs or life threatening conditions get to a centre with the appropriate expertise in place.Sir Bruce Keogh
David Evans, medical director at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The evidence is clear that seeing the right specialist for your condition quickly when you are seriously ill or injured greatly improves chances of survival and results in better clinical outcomes for patients, regardless of journey times.
“We are very proud that our teams are ahead of the rest of the NHS in developing a new model of emergency care which has been ten years in the making, will be clinically best for patients and also resilient for the future.
“While our new hospital will treat seriously ill or injured patients from across Northumberland and North Tyneside, people with less serious conditions will continue to receive urgent care at 24 hour walk-in services at our general hospitals in Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck.
“We also expect these walk-in patients will be seen more quickly in the future as staff will not be distracted or called away to treat more serious cases.”
A new microsite – www.northumbria.nhs.uk/emergency – has been launched which includes information about the new model of emergency care being introduced.
The campaign aims to ensure that people living and working across Northumberland and North Tyneside have all the information they need about the emergency care changes coming in June and that they understand how to access services.
The new microsite will include examples of the less serious conditions which will continue to be treated at 24 hour walk-in services at Hexham, North Tyneside and Wansbeck general hospitals.
It also explains the serious emergencies that will be treated at the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital once it opens in June.