Ambulance Service wins 2013 Shared Learning Award

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has won this year's Shared Learning Award for its work in improving clinical practice across the South West.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has won this year's Shared Learning Award for its work in improving clinical practice across the South West.

The acquisition of the Great Western Ambulance Service by the Trust created an opportunity for both organisations to work together to harmonise care and improve practice.

The Trust aimed to harmonise clinical practice from day one using NICE guidance to set a standard for care. However, this proved to be challenging given that 4000 staff work across 120 sites.

Before the project started, Clinical Notices were used to disseminate NICE guidelines to staff. The volume of updates given, and the amount of detail needed to be memorised, meant that it was difficult to keep track of many of the guidelines.

To apply the guidelines in a fast-moving ambulance setting, and ensure frontline staff had quick access to key clinical information, the Trust took a radically new approach towards guidance dissemination.

It developed a clinical guidelines folder developed by senior clinical teams working together to review guidance. This provided a standard, concise and easily accessible resource written by ambulance clinicians, for ambulance clinicians.

In December 2012, folders were issued to 4000 members of ambulance clinical staff, and in January 2013, these were then reviewed to ensure they could be fully implemented from day one.

The folders helped with the availability of guidance for ambulance clinicians in the field, provided a higher profile of evidence based practice, improved implementation of guidance, and most importantly, improved care.

A range of NICE guidance is now firmly embedded across the organisation, leading to an accompanying increase in the profile of NICE resources.

The project demonstrated the advantage of aiming of harmonising clinical care from day one rather than harmonising care over the first 1-2 years as has happened previously.

The team also believe that a key learning point was that the project's success was dependent on the multiple methods used for implementation, which took just six months from start to completion.

Adrian South, Deputy Clinical Director of South Western Ambulance Services NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The project really brought all of the best guidance together. We issued about 4000 folders to all out clinical staff, and I think we've had a really positive response to our paramedics now having the information they need when they need it in a format that is written by paramedics for paramedics.

"We've got a range of methods we're using to evaluate the project, and over the coming year I'm sure we'll see some positive results."

On participating in this year's NICE Shared Learning Awards, Mr South commented: "I think it's been a great process to be involved in right from the outset, and obviously fantastic to be the winner for this year.

"I think it really recognises all the work that our team and particularly our frontline staff have put into the creation of the new ambulance organisation covering the South West."

Both runners-up were also recognised by NICE Chair Professor David Haslam, for their excellent work in implementing NICE guidance.

Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was praised for its work in using NICE quality standards to improve services for dementia and end of life care across Cumbria.

Nene and Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups were also praised for using NICE guidance to fund a redesign of services for people with type 2 diabetes.