Wiltshire ambulance operations centre to move from Devizes to Bristol (From The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
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Wiltshire ambulance operations centre to move from Devizes to Bristol
Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust is to relocate its Wiltshire emergency operations centre in Devizes to its existing Acuma House EOC in north Bristol.
The move is part of the trust’s ten-year estates strategy – announced last year – designed to ensure it has the most appropriate facilities to provide the best possible patient care in the most cost-effective way.
At its September meeting, the trust board approved a full business case for the reduction of three to two EOCs in the GWAS area. As a result, GWAS will not provide services from Wiltshire EOC after March 31 2013 and will vacate the building.
Ken Wenman, chief executive of GWAS, said: “The most important thing to stress is that this move in no way represents a loss of local knowledge or reduction in our service to patients across our Wiltshire sector.
“On the contrary, since 2008 all incoming 999 calls to the trust have been answered in our Acuma House facility. This is an accredited international centre of excellence and the only emergency control-room in Europe to receive that accreditation four times in a row.”
Activity carried out at the Wiltshire EOC is the resulting dispatch of resources – including paramedics in rapid-response cars and double-crewed ambulances – to incidents in the trust’s Wiltshire sector.
A total of 33 GWAS staff currently work in the Wiltshire EOC – the majority dispatching ambulance resources to patients across the trust’s Wiltshire locality in teams providing a 24-hour service.
Mr Wenman said: “By relocating to Acuma House, our Wiltshire dispatchers will be located alongside EOC-based clinicians in the shape of our Clinical Support Desk, meaning they will be better able to ensure the right resource is responded first time. Also, there will be increased resilience to support the service to Wiltshire in the event of staff sickness or other short-term difficulties.”
GWAS, like all NHS trusts, is required to make significant savings and demonstrate that it is running the whole service as efficiently and effectively as possible. Relocating the existing Wiltshire EOC activity to Acuma House will deliver a recurring £700,000-a-year saving – with rent for the Devizes facility accounting for a significant proportion of that total.
In the 2013-14 financial year, this will represent the EOCs’ contribution to the trust’s overall cost improvement target of £4.3million.
Mr Wenman said: “Throughout the process that has led to this decision, we have involved and engaged staff affected by the change and will continue to do so. This is to ensure the transfer of activity to Acuma House is achieved smoothly with no loss of service to patients.
“Also, we are keen to retain the expertise and commitment of existing Wiltshire EOC staff, so will be working hard to support them to transfer.”
The current arrangement of three EOCs is very much a legacy from the creation of GWAS in 2006.
Since then, the trust has already made significant progress from the inherited legacy, including successfully implementing a single computer-aided dispatch system across the trust, as well as centralising the handling of incoming 999 calls.