A group of northern ambulance services has realised huge financial efficiencies and made cross-organisation improvements for staff and patients by working closely together on matters such as fleet management, procurement and workforce.
The Northern Ambulance Alliance (NAA) comprises the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) and North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) and aims to identify and develop opportunities for joint efficiencies and innovation. East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has also been an associate member of the NAA since January 2018.
Since its formation, in May 2016, the NAA has delivered a number of significant projects, including the joint procurement of a new fleet management system. The innovative solution supports fleet managers to reduce vehicle costs through more efficient data capture and analysis. Joint procurement meant there was only one tender process for the three organisations, one lot of set-up costs and the single system helps to drive efficiencies across the three fleets overall – this together is estimated to have saved around £1m across the three ambulance services.
Other cost-saving initiatives worth just over £1.5m collectively, include: joint specification for new vehicles; change of medical gases supplier, which has provided organisational discounts; introduction of electric vehicles – benefits of electric vehicles vs current vehicles tested by NWAS and the learning shared across the Alliance suggests scope to make significant efficiencies and have positive environmental impact in the future by increasing number of electric vehicles in the fleet; and a shared payroll function.
The NAA has also found value in a collaborative approach to workforce, quality and operational projects, including: sharing best practice on promoting the national NHS staff survey and encouraging responses, and similarly, the flu vaccination uptake; improving key equality and diversity indicators by establishing a sub-group to address key challenges and share ideas across organisations; the development of a multi-professional workforce, including nursing, in the ambulance service; sharing best practice and exploring initiatives to help prevent and/or better manage falls; the formation of a quality and compliance alliance; early development of a joint climate change plan; and exploration of joint research projects.
Rod Barnes, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, and CEO lead for NAA, said, “All trusts in the NAA are committed to providing the very best patient care and the best environments for their staff to work in. We are already seeing the benefits of collaborating on projects of common interest where standardisation makes sense operationally and financially.
“Through these collaborative projects we’ve been able to take forward the recommendations from Lord Carter to improve productivity and create efficiencies.”