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24/7 hospital transfer service is first in country

An adult ambulance service dedicated to transferring critically ill and injured patients between hospitals in the East of England has become the first in the country to operate around the clock.

The East of England Adult Critical Care Service, hosted by Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, will now serve 18 hospitals across the region, 24/7.

The development, which takes pressure off front line ambulances operating in the community, will transfer those who need specialist care or treatment elsewhere, or because their local intensive care unit is full.

Adult critical care ambulance and crew members standing in front of it
Service director and Addenbrooke's anaesthetist Dr Anne Booth (front) with team members

The Waterbeach-based service, which is one of ten in England with others in Scotland and Ireland, will also repatriate patients to hospitals nearest to their homes.

The service, which was launched in December 2021 and celebrated its 1,000th transfer last month, says the development has been possible thanks to the dedication of staff, and NHS England funding.

The service now has around 30 mainly anaesthesia or intensive care consultants and 13 transfer practitioners, all drawn from across the region. It works in partnership with St John Ambulance, which provides vehicles and technicians. It has a clinical director, Dr Anne Booth, a lead nurse, Hannah Donald, a service manager, Chris Mead, an admin team and educational practitioner.

Dr Booth, whose team clock up hundreds of thousands of miles a year, said:

I would like to pay tribute to our team for their dedication, support and hard work over the last 22 months that has allowed us to reach this point.

We are all very excited to support the region, ensure patient safety, and work even more closely with our regional colleagues.

Dr Anne Booth

Hannah Donald added:

We were very conscious that overnight transfer of patients could cause delays for front line ambulances working in our region, and we were determined to find a way of preventing this. We have already started 27/7, and it is already paying dividends for hospitals and patients.

Hannah Donald