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999 control centre provision at SECAS

28 October, 2014

The South East Coast Ambulance Service has outlined its plans for coping with future increases in 999 calls.

During the Annual SECAS Members Meeting discussions took place around the Trust’s plans to move from three emergency operation centres (EOCs) to two.

The Trust is looking to locate the two centres in Kent and on the Surrey/Sussex border; with a new headquarters to co-locate with the Surrey/Sussex EOC.

While at this stage it is unclear where the centres will be located, SECAS said that it was committed to making the move to bring it in line with the majority of other ambulance trusts around the country which have two EOCs.

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% since 2007 and with demand forecast to increase by 5% year on-year, we can’t afford to do nothing.”

The Trust looked at the possibility of maintaining three smaller EOCs as well as one larger EOC. However, this was ruled out as evidence showed that fewer but larger EOCs improved staff performance and reduced variation.

By introducing two EOCs, the Trust believed it would have better resilience and be cost effective. “The new centres will have the capacity to allow more clinicians to be on hand to help direct patients to the right healthcare.

“We would also have better resilience if one of the EOCs was forced out of action. The centres would have the capacity to take the additional calls but equally the staff to answer them.”

Over the coming months the Trust will be informing the public, stakeholders and staff about these plans and what it will mean for the Trust and the community it serves.

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