The South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) are planning changes to their control centres to meet the growth in 999 calls.
The NHS Trust is planning two emergency operation centres (EOCs), to replace the existing three, with one in Kent and the other on the Surrey/Sussex boarder. They say the current centres are very old and no longer fit for purpose. SECAmb are also planning a new headquarters in the same location as the Surrey/Sussex operation centre.
The NHS Trust covers Kent, Sussex, Surrey and NE Hampshire. During 2013/14, they received 862,466 emergency calls from members of the public or other healthcare professionals – 5,863 of the calls were categorised as immediately life-threatening (Category A emergency calls). They reached 76.8% of these patients within eight minutes.
Acting Assistant Director of Clinical Operations, Sue Skelton said:
Our EOCs have reached capacity. We are undertaking some remedial work to ensure that can continue to provide a safe service in the short term but we do need to find a long-term solution to the problem within the next few years.
We have seen 999 calls increase by 25 per cent since 2007 and with demand forecast to increase by five per cent year-on-year, we can’t afford to do nothing.
The new centres will have the capacity to allow more clinicians to be on hand to help direct patients to the right healthcare.