Doctors’ delight as threatened ambulance team is spared the axe following EDP pressure

Catherine-Barton-who-died-in-a

An emergency medical team which helps doctors and paramedics treat patients in life-or-death situations has been spared the axe.

Dr Andy Mason from Suffolk Accident Rescue Service.

Dr Andy Mason from Suffolk Accident Rescue Service.

The Eastern Daily Press revealed in January that the ambulance service's 24-hour critical care desk (CCD) was in jeopardy, just months after it was set up.

Health chiefs were not committing to funding the regional 999 team past April 1, with the ambulance service wanting the funding to come from Norfolk and Waveney Primary Care Trust (PCT) and the PCT hoping the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) would find the money to support it.

The ambulance trust set up the CCD in August last year in the wake of the death of veterinary nurse Catherine Barton in a car crash near Thetford.

Ms Barton died after waiting for more than 90 minutes for paramedics to get her out of her car.

EDP front page from January 18, 2013 which highlighted the failings which led to the creation of the

EDP front page from January 18, 2013 which highlighted the failings which led to the creation of the critical care desk. - Credit: Archant


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The CCD, based in the EEAST's control room in Chelmsford, is supposed to prevent a similar tragedy by keeping a track of the ambulance service's doctors and critical care teams, giving advice to paramedics and sending out extra resources such as the air ambulance.

Doctor Tony Press, from Norfolk's Accident Rescue Service (NARS), is regularly called by the CCD to life-threatening emergencies.

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'I was not optimistic about its being saved,' he said. 'One likes to think the publicity in the EDP helped. I'm very pleased that it has happened.'

Dr Press was belatedly called to help Ms Barton in August 2011 by the ambulance service.

EDP front page from January 31 which revealed the critical care desk faced closure.

EDP front page from January 31 which revealed the critical care desk faced closure. - Credit: Archant

Two weeks ago, on March 10, the CCD called Dr Press to a fatal crash on the A140 in Hevingham, north Norfolk, in which five people were injured and two others died.

'The CCD was crucial in getting resources and we had plenty of resources there at the time,' he said. 'They are functioning well. It has made a huge difference.'

His counterpart south of the border, Dr Andy Mason, from charity the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS), also thanked the EDP for putting pressure on health chiefs to provide funding for the team for another year.

He said: 'I'm very pleased that the funding has been organised. I think it has been an important initiative and it definitely helps in getting the right advanced resources to the scene.

'I think the EDP can take some of the credit for almost making it impossible for the funders to say no.'

A spokesman for the ambulance trust confirmed the funding had been secured permanently with the money provided by the PCT.

He said: 'We are delighted that funding for the critical care desk has been secured indefinitely. It is a vital service working with our most traumatic cases where lives really are at stake.

'It's important that we get the right resource to the patients that need it most and to have clinicians at the end of the phone is the best way forward.'

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