New ambulance call centre opens in Teesside

A brand-new team of health advisors is ready to take the region’s 999 and 111 calls from Teesside from this week.

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) opened its third base at Wynyard Business Park in Billingham in October 2018 in order to house additional clinicians for its Clinical Assessment Service (CAS), which was expanded as part of the five-year Integrated Urgent Care Service contract, worth £55 million, won by the Trust earlier that year.

Now, after gaining additional funding for more health advisors, the Trust is now in a position to begin using the base as a third Emergency Operations Centre, complementing the bases in Newcastle and Hebburn.

The new team of 44 health advisors (consisting of existing staff transferring and new health advisors), together with a new section manager, and six team leaders moved in today (Monday, 9 May).

The building is named Winter House in memory of the Trust’s former chairman, Ashley Winter, who passed away in April 2018.

Stephen Segasby, chief operating officer at NEAS, said: “Our Clinical Assessment Service has been running successfully from Winter House since 2018, and it’s fantastic to be able to make more use of the building by securing additional investment from our commissioners to expand our call handling capability amid rising 999 and NHS111 calls.

“Having a third base for call handling allows us to provide additional resilience for our call handling capability across the North East, and has also allowed us to recruit from a larger pool of candidates in a very competitive local job market by being able to offer a location in the Teesside area, as geography had previously prevented people from being able to apply to work within our Emergency Operations Centre.”

Chris Dawson, deputy chief operating officer for the Emergency Operations Centre, added: “We received an overwhelming number of applications for the new roles, which shows us how welcome a third base has been in the local community.

“What’s particularly pleasing to see though is that the management team established at Winter House has been recruited primarily through internal promotion; one of our current team leaders has been promoted as our new section manager, three new team leaders have progressed from roles within the senior health advisor team and two new team leaders have progressed from the health advisor role. Progression on this scale has only been possible through the expansion of our Emergency Operation Centre sites and presents an exciting new start for them all.”

Judith Grieves has taken on the role of section manager, having originally joined NEAS as a health advisor in May 2013, before progressing to team leader in October 2015.

She said: “There is already a significant clinician base at Winter House, and it is my aim to mirror the close working relationships we have within the two current Emergency Operations Centres. We will operate as a cohesive team ensuring the health advisors have full on-site support from the clinician team.

“I’m really looking forward to welcoming a substantial number of new staff to the health advisor team as well as enabling existing health advisors to transfer and work closer to home.”

One of the new team leaders is Jonathan Tones, who joined NEAS as a NHS111 health advisor in June 2015, before progressing to 999, a coach and then a senior health advisor.

“I’m really excited to be part of the new site,” he said. “I’m looking forward to helping develop and grow our new health advisors and doing the best for our patients.”