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Community Paramedic Scheme Launched in NHS Calderdale

29 April 2009

A ground-breaking scheme to provide the rural communities surrounding the Todmorden and Hebden Bridge areas with their own paramedics is being piloted by Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust and funded by NHS Calderdale.

Equipped with a rapid response vehicle, for varying hours between 8am and midnight, seven days a week, the community-based paramedics will primarily respond to life-threatening and serious emergencies in the area.

In addition, they will work to improve the health of local people in partnership with other primary healthcare providers, such as GPs and district nurses at Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Grange Dene and Luddendenfoot surgeries. 

Community Paramedics at Todmorden Health Centre
Pictured from left to right: Community Paramedics
Steve Dighton, Al Day and Glen Powell at Todmorden Health Centre.

They will also engage with local residents and be proactive in addressing the real needs of the community by working within it. A large part of this will be to link in with local schools, community groups, care homes and charitable clubs to educate the people about how the ambulance service works and the best way to use it.

YAS Locality Manager, Robert Eastwood has been working collaboratively with the Urgent Care team at NHS Calderdale to secure funding for the scheme following the success of a similar scheme in Skelmanthorpe which was launched in 2006.

Robert said: “The idea around the Community Paramedic Scheme is to provide an innovative way for ambulance service staff to use their professional skills to benefit the community. The scheme will help YAS reach patients with life-threatening conditions more quickly.

“Previous schemes have shown that over half of the patients seen by a community paramedic after calling 999 for an ambulance, do not need to go to hospital.” 

Steve Dighton, one of the four community paramedics, said: “This scheme will help us to be more visible and available in the local area to respond to patients who need to call 999.

“I think people always feel that villages in rural areas are incredibly isolated, but the fact that the team is going to be in the local area seven days a week will provide residents with a huge reassurance.”

The pilot is being funded by NHS Calderdale, the local NHS organisation responsible for planning for and buying appropriate health services to meet local needs. Kevin Roberts, Director of Commissioning, NHS Calderdale said: “The new service should provide a timely response to a rural community and will be a valuable asset.  We are pleased that this service will allow residents to be treated closer to their own homes and will give them greater access to a high quality and responsive service.”

During the six-month pilot, the community paramedics will be based at Todmorden Health Centre.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department