Nurses in the north-east of England are to be sent as first responders instead of paramedics to 999 calls made by elderly individuals who have suffered falls.
Nursing Times reports that this initiative is being rolled out in Durham to free up ambulance services that are already overstretched and battling with delays, while also making sure that fall victims are quickly receiving the support and care that they need from a healthcare professional.
To begin with, senior community nurses, community matrons and GPs will be among those sent in response to these emergency calls, with those behind the initiative stressing that doctors and nurses wouldn't always be sent to respond to elderly people's falls, just when it makes more sense or would be quicker than waiting for an ambulance at busy periods.
This measure is being introduced in order to make sure no elderly person is ever left unable to get up after a fall for an extended period of time because ambulances are engaged elsewhere.
Dr Stewart Findlay, chief clinical officer for the Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield Clinical Commissioning Group, explained: "This year, we've had issues around ambulance response times - we've had a few cases of elderly people lying on the floor waiting, three, four or five hours. No clinician wants to think of an elderly person lying in pain like that."
Some patients will simply need help getting up and comforting, which nurses will be well-equipped to oversee, while others will have suffered more serious injuries and need hospital treatment. In this situation, the nurse will be able to stay with them to provide comfort or help arrange alternative transport to the hospital if an ambulance is still delayed.
However, Dr Nichola Ashby, professional lead for acute and emergency care at the Royal College of Nursing, raised some concerns with the initiative, stating: "The use of nurses as frontline staff may cause extra pressures on an already stretched NHS."
With this in mind, experienced locum nurses may find themselves in higher demand in some parts of the UK as the health service looks to use their skills in aspects of care that they do not usually get involved with.
Written by James Puckle
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