North West Ambulance Service

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We serve more than 7 million people across approximately 5,400 square miles - the communities of Cumbria, Lancashire, Greater Manchester,  Merseyside, Cheshire and Glossop. We receive approximately 1.3 million emergency 999 calls and our Patient Transport Service undertakes 1.5 million journeys per year to those who need non emergency transport to attend healthcare appointments. We deliver the NHS 111 service across the region handling more that 1.5 million calls per year.

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Organisation Details

Address North West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
Trust Headquarters
Ladybridge Hall
399 Chorley New Road
Twitter @NWAmbulance

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

The aim of North West Ambulance Service is to be the best ambulance service in the country by delivering the right care, at the right time, in the right place, every time. Mental health has been identified as a priority for our organisation and suicide prevention has been identified as a key area for development within our Right Care Strategy and our Mental Health and Dementia Strategic Plan - both of which have been launched in 2019.

We are working closely with our partners in terms of embedding a multi-agency approach to suicide prevention, we have an NWAS Suicide Prevention steering group that is representative of the whole of our organisation and we have a programme of work which will take us up to 2022.

We recognise that our staff are our main asset, and due to the nature of their work are exposed to trauma and this can impact on mental health - we are committed to promoting good mental health within our staff from recruitment until retirement and this work is underpinned by our Staff Wellbeing Framework/Strategy.

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What are your current priorities?

- The upskilling and training of our staff in relation to mental health including suicide prevention skills which include prevention, intervention and postvention

- Refining and utilising our data in relation to suicide and self harm to identify trends and themes and developing mechanism to share our information with partners to ensure improved outcomes for patients. We aim to develop an information dashboard related to our work in suicide prevention

- Working within our communities and in collaboration with our local and regional multi-agency suicide prevention networks to reduce and eliminate suicide

- To ensure our staff are supported in terms of their own mental health and that if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts there are clear support mechanisms in place.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

- The capacity to ensure that we are linked into all the locality based suicide prevention strategy meetings

- A lack of crisis support pathways outside of the Emergency Department for our staff to convey to when patients are suicidal

- Mental health training has historically been very minimal within the Ambulance Service - this is a national picture that we are addressing, but we have over 6000 staff to train which is a challenge

- Ensuring that our staff know that it is 'safe to talk' when they are experiencing mental distress, there is still a stigma which is again improving slowly.

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