Transfer – is the new east of England Adult Critical Care Transfer Service, which will be hosted by Cambridge University Hospitals in support of hospitals across the region. It is a specialised transport service for adult patients who need critical care including those with complex time-sensitive conditions, for example those in need of a transplant, emergency neuro or cardiovascular care.
On average 40 patients each week are moved between critical care units, of which approximately one third are outside of the region.
The innovative service, Transfer, is being launched on 1 December 2021 because of the benefits of an adult critical care transfer service in the East of England which were highlighted during the Covid pandemic.
Currently, patients who need to be transferred are typically accompanied by a junior doctor in a front-line 999 emergency ambulance, which removes the ambulance, ambulance crew and junior doctor from service for approximately 4-6 hours.
Dr Anne Booth, clinical co-lead for the Adult Critical Care Transfer Service and a consultant anaesthetist at Cambridge University Hospital, said: “Transferring critically ill patients, particularly for those requiring time-sensitive care, is always challenging and patient safety is of paramount importance. This new specialist transfer service will allow acute hospitals to continue their emergency work while the Transfer service provide consultant-led care for those patients needing transfer.”
Dr Alistair Steel, consultant anaesthetist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, King’s Lynn, and co-lead for the Transfer service, said: "A key feature of the new service is that it is delivered by consultants and specialist practitioners from around the region, for the region. We are really pleased to have the support of Cambridge University Hospitals as a host for the service, and we are working closely with services around the country to ensure that patients have equitable access to specialist services regardless of the location or time of day.”
Dr Booth added: “The need for this service has long been recognised. Being able to implement it on 1 December is a huge testament to the hard work critical care teams have put in place throughout the Covid pandemic to help ensure patients are getting the right care in the right place at the right time, and will mean we are in a good position to meet winter demands.
“This project is a superb example of how, through working in collaboration with partners we can truly improve the care we deliver to patients.”
Dr Ellen Makings, clinical lead east of England Critical Care Cell, and Medical Director for System Improvement at NHS England and Improvement in the east of England said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for a dedicated critical care patient transfer service. I am delighted this will support what is going to be a difficult winter for the NHS and will keep our emergency ambulances available for frontline emergency work as well as providing senior clinicians to transfer our sickest patients around the region.”
The new transfer service will work alongside existing specialist transfer services, including the paediatric and neonatal (PaNDR) service and the Royal Papworth’s Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) service.