Ambulances carrying life-support machines and specialist staff will transfer sick children and babies from across the region to intensive-care wards, in a new 24/7 service.
The service is known as PaNDR - Paediatric and Neonatal Decision Support and Retrieval Service - and has been temporarily running alongside London-based services.
But over the next six months Cambridge University Hospitals Trust (CUH) will phase in delivery of the entire service for the east of England, which will be fully up and running by April 202 , reducing journey times for patients and returning them home sooner.
The crews can also provide expert care, if needed, on location.
In total, PaNDR will operate six specialist ambulances – three equipped for tiny babies, and three for older children – with several crews of paediatric consultants, critical care nurses and experienced drivers working shifts around the clock to provide the emergency service.
The crews are coordinated by an operations room based in Cambridge. When the emergency telephone rings, a PaNDR coordinator will determine the best course of action and despatch the appropriate team. The expert medical teams provide care whilst transporting a patient from one hospital to a more specialised unit.
With intensive care beds for children and babies spread at different hospitals across the region, and specialist care beds in limited locations, the PaNDR operations room keeps a record of where beds are available, so it can direct the ambulance to the best place for that patient as quickly as possible.
Watch the video below about the PaNDR service.
This is part of a renewed vision for children’s services in the east of England, around providing care as close to home as possible, and linking into plans for a new dedicated Children’s Hospital for the region to be built on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. It will result in improved specialist paediatric expertise for patients in the region, minimise transport times, and link in closely to other networks across the region, providing equal access to high quality care for all.
PaNDR will also take youngsters home, or to a hospital closer to home, as soon as possible – something that was not routinely provided in the past.
PaNDR Director Dr Sue Broster said: “This is a really positive step for children and their families in our region. All our patients and their families tell us they want to be treated by experts close to home, and PaNDR makes that a reality. We can access all the fantastic expertise that we have in the east of England, and safeguard that for the future of our youngest patients.”
Two new ambulances specially kitted out with portable life-support units have been purchased, thanks to £216,000 funding from the Addenbrooke’s Charitable Trust (ACT). Many members of the public supported this important work when they took part in the annual “Chariots of Fire” race in September 2019, which raised £92,897 and where all sponsorship money was dedicated towards the purchase of children’s ambulance equipment.