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Healthwatch Oxfordshire has confirmed that the SOS Service, operated by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), provides faster, more efficient and more cost-effective treatment to people using Oxfordshire’s Night Time Economy.

The local Healthwatch team goes on to recommend that the SOS Service is such a valuable community resource that it should receive funding to run all year – and not just during the peak period of late November into early January.

The findings and recommendations are contained in the Enter and View Report that Healthwatch Oxfordshire published following a visit to the SOS Service on 31 December 2018.

Patients told the Healthwatch team that the SOS Service was a wonderful service run by friendly and professional staff. Local police officers highly valued the SOS Service as it freed up their time to focus on criminal concerns as opposed to medical ones.

Craig Heigold, Paramedic Team Leader at SCAS and Oxford SOS Project Lead, said:

“I’m delighted that the Healthwatch Oxfordshire report confirms what a valuable addition the SOS Service has become. Not only can we reduce the demand on A&E at the John Radcliffe Hospital during peak Friday and Saturday evenings, but our colleagues from Thames Valley Police are also very appreciative of how we can reduce their workload in the city centre too.”

“I would like to thank all my colleagues, along with our great team of volunteer community first responders, who all helped deliver the SOS Service from 9 November to 6 January. It’s this sort of appreciation and praise, along with the thanks we received from the patients that came to us and their friends or family, that makes all those night shifts worthwhile.”

In its most recent phase of operation, 54 patients presented themselves at the SOS Service, located in the Cornmarket, for treatment. Of these, only 16 required further treatment and/or assessment at the John Radcliffe Hospital; meaning that the SOS Team was able to deal with over two-thirds of those patients at the scene who might otherwise have gone to A&E or called 999.

Despite a widely held perception that these types of city centre weekend services were nothing more than ‘drunk tanks’ nearly half of the patients that used the SOS Service last winter did so due to injuries sustained in an assault or fall, or for medical reasons.

The Healthwatch Oxfordshire Enter and View Report is available online:

https://healthwatchoxfordshire.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SOS-Bus-Enter-and-View-Report-.pdf

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Notes to editors:

  • The Health and Social Care Act allows local Healthwatch authorised representatives to observe service delivery and talk to service users, their families and carers on premises such as hospitals, residential homes, GP practices, dental surgeries, optometrists and pharmacies. Enter and View visits can happen if people tell their local Healthwatch there is a problem with a service but, equally, they can occur when services have a good reputation.
  • The Healthwatch Oxfordshire team spent 4.5 hours with the SOS Service on 31 December 2018 and collected information by talking with patients, their friends, SCAS clinicians and any referring parties (e.g. Thames Valley Police).
  • The SOS Service received funding from Oxfordshire CCG to operate on Fridays and Saturdays (22:45-05:00) from Friday 9 November 2018 to Sunday 6 January 2019; an additional service ran on Monday, 31 December.