North West Ambulance Service’s new £2.7million state-of-the-art control centre, located at Orbit Developments Parkway Business Park in Manchester was opened by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester on 10th May 2012.
The Duke met and talked to ambulance control staff, who last month, moved to the centre from the old site in Belle Vue, that was no longer fit for purpose. Following a tour of the facilities, HRH revealed a commemorative plaque to mark the occasion.
The centre, which took 11 months to complete, marks a real milestone for the ambulance service and brings together the emergency, urgent and patient transport control functions covering the entire Greater Manchester area.
Collectively the control function in Greater Manchester employs over 200 staff and last year answered some 426,365 emergency 999 calls and managed 618,312 non-emergency patient journeys.
Around 8,000 hours of work went into the project which hasresulted in six different zones – 999 call taking, ambulance dispatch, NHS 111, Urgent Care, Patient Transport Service Day Control,Planning and call management and Major Incident Management.
The control centre creates the environment for the ambulance service to think differently about how it serves those in need. In the Urgent Care section for example, specialist paramedics callback less serious 999 calls and give a clinical assessment over the phone. The paramedics can then, if appropriate, refer patients to an alternative place for treatment, freeing up emergency ambulances for more serious incidents.
This is a significant move for the Patient Transport Service control function which was previously split between five sites. Establishing one contact centre in the Greater Manchester area brings the area in line with the rest of the service in the North West and has enabled new technology to be rolled out effectively, such as a computer aided dispatch system, automated vehicle tracking and the digital radio system Airwave, to bring the service in line with the emergency service.
Chief Executive at North West Ambulance Service, Darren Hurrell said: “Modern control rooms are the hub of ambulance services of today and play a vital role in ensuring that patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
“This investment not only provides a pleasant working environment for staff, but also allows us to continue to progress the way we deliver healthcare to our patients in the future,through functions which offer patients other appropriate care pathways such as NHS 111 and the Urgent Care Desk.
“We are very proud of the new development and are honoured that Prince Richard took time to visit us.”
The facility at Parkway is shared with NHS Manchester.