The Lib Dem leader visited Capitol Park in Barnsley to launch the new Embrace service, led by Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust. The new initiative, a first in the UK, provides 24 hour expert clinical advice on the telephone and can send out a skilled transport team within 20 minutes of accepting a call.
On arrival at one of the region's 23 hospitals, the service provides the care needed to transport the sick baby or child to a specialist centre. The new service has already taken 2,000 calls this year, resulting in more than 1,000 transfers.
Mr Clegg said: "Whenever I meet staff from Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust I am absolutely blown away by the amazing work they do.
"Embrace is a pioneering example of what can be done when health care professionals work together. It helps sick children get the treatment they need quickly, wherever they are, and it reassures parents across Yorkshire."
Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust has worked in close collaboration with other hospitals in the region to develop the new service. It employs 56 frontline staff made up of 48 clinical workers and eight call handlers who deal with the initial call contact.
If a child needs to be transported elsewhere for specialist care, the doctor can call a dedicated number which links straight through to the call centre at Barnsley. The call handlers take basic details of the child before passing the call on to one of the specialist transport doctors or nurses for further discussion.
Other specialists, such as neonatologists, cardiologists or intensive care physicians can then be 'conferenced' into the call. With details of bed availability and specialist services in the area also kept at Embrace, a plan for the child's care can be quickly put together and a team mobilised within 20 minutes.
Chris Sharratt, chief executive of Sheffield Children's NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We are delighted Mr Clegg came to open our fantastic new Embrace service which places South Yorkshire on the map for cutting edge children's services.
"We want to make sure children around the region have the same access to specialist centres, within a timescale that meets clinical standards utilising a state-of-the-art transport service. This combination of neonatal and paediatric services is a first for the UK and an excellent example of what can be achieved when NHS professionals work together.
"Transporting sick children can be very complex and having specialist doctors and nurses available enables the best possible care to be provided whilst the child is being moved."<< Archive
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