12 August 2008
Health & Social Services has recently completed the process of consolidating and formalising the Aeromedical requirements for the transfer of
patients to and from the
Each year approximately 3500 – 4000 seats are booked on scheduled flights so that patients can attend hospitals in the UK for planned and elective care, including some outpatient consultations. For patients that are unable to travel by scheduled aircraft, (normally those whose condition is acute or already an emergency) the only option is private charter (or Air ambulance) flights.
In 2001, 94 charter flights were used to transfer patients to and from Jersey and this number has more than doubled in the last 6 years to 238 flights in 2007. In 2008 we expect 280-300 charter flights will be undertaken, based upon a figure of 150 during the first six months, and it is anticipated that there will be year on year growth in this area.
In 2004, a working party was formed to explore and develop Jersey’s Aeromedical transfer service with particular focus being placed upon charter flights. It determined that Jersey needed a service that was not only more responsive, being developed around the specific needs of the island, but one that was also cost effective. It was decided that to achieve this a single charter aircraft operator should be appointed so that standards and procedures could be put in place and relationships developed to ensure the best quality service was secured.
Since then a tendering process has taken place, which attracted interest from 12 Aeromedical companies. This number was gradually reduced through a rigorous process and led to Capital Aviation being awarded a 3 year contract commencing in October 2007.
Capital Aviation have been providing air charter services into and out of Jersey for over 17 years, some of which already included Aeromedical services for Health and Social Services. The high quality of their services, personnel, aircraft, maintenance standards and safety procedures – together with their ability to meet the fast turnaround times required by the nature of transferring critically ill patients – were all key factors in their appointment.
The ensuing contract has ensured that Jersey patients and residents will be guaranteed not just excellent service when it is needed most, but also one that is fit for purpose and value for money.
The management of emergency patient transfers is a complex business. To ensure the smooth and effective transfer of critically ill patients, Health and Social Services also created a new post of In-flight Coordinator in July 2007. Responsibilities within this post are varied and wide ranging and include coordinating flights to and from Jersey, assessing patients’ fitness to travel, supporting education, audit, strategy and managing the Aeromedical service for Jersey.
A process for organising air transfers was developed using systems that even the busiest staff can follow easily. This is especially important when ward staff are working hard to prepare acutely ill patients for the actual transfer.
The current process has reduced the number of people involved in organising an air ambulance flight with the result that the risk of communication error has been reduced. Much of the transfer of data is now by electronic means which in turn provides improved data collection and quality audit. There has been capital investment in monitoring and transfer equipment.
Andrew Woodward, Consultant for Anaesthesia & Critical Care, said "The development of these new processes and the close working relationship with Capital Aviation is allowing the HSSD to develop a state of the art regime delivering the best possible care for Jersey patients and which we believe will become the benchmark for patient transfers across Europe."
(Ryan McNay – In-flight Coordinator, HSSD).