The countdown has begun for radical changes to healthcare services in Northumberland.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has set up a high-profile awareness campaign to spread word of the changes due to come into effect in June when the new Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital opens near Cramlington.
The hospital is the first purpose-built facility of its kind in the country that is dedicated to emergency care, where consultants will be on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, alongside a range of specialists.
The system aims to save more lives and improve clinical outcomes.
People with less serious conditions who still require urgent care will continue to be treated at 24-hour walk-in services at general hospitals in Wansbeck, Hexham and North Tyneside.
It is expected that they will be seen more quickly than at present as staff will not be called away to more serious cases.
There is a genuine feeling of excitement in the air now amongst our teams.Chris Biggin, Emergency Medicine Consultant and Clinical Director of Emergency Care at Northumbria Healthcare
The healthcare trust has set up a microsite — www.northumbria.nhs.uk/emergency — to present detailed information about the new model and help people understand how to access the services they need.
Social media is also being used with a hashtag #NewEra, and a video on the microsite starring NHS staff has been shared with more than 265,000 people.
Emergency Medicine Consultant and Clinical Director of Emergency Care Dr Chris Biggin said: “There is a genuine feeling of excitement in the air now amongst our teams as we look forward to opening the doors of the new Northumbria hospital in June.
“Together we have been working on this new model of emergency care for over a decade and to see all of that work come to fruition for the benefit of our patients in June will be a truly special moment for everyone involved.”
Information about the changes will be delivered to households next month.