Redefining the ‘news’


Researching complex topics and demysifying useful information, sharing the stories of real people, writing, editing, polishing—these are some of the reasons I went into my profession. But when I carried out my master's in journalism, the drawn out United States-led war on Iraq was front-page news, while stories in health care (which had always been my area of interest) tended to focus on sensationalising research and scaring people away from just about every food (though to be fair, a large majority of our food has in fact been tampered with to a worrying degree—but that's a discussion for another day).



Researching complex topics and demysifying useful information, sharing the stories of real people, writing, editing, polishing—these are some of the reasons I went into my profession. But when I carried out my master's in journalism, the drawn out United States-led war on Iraq was front-page news, while stories in health care (which had always been my area of interest) tended to focus on sensationalising research and scaring people away from just about every food (though to be fair, a large majority of our food has in fact been tampered with to a worrying degree—but that's a discussion for another day). I quickly identified a negative undertone in the culture of news because good news in the world of journalism isn't ‘news’. But, it should be. Several years back, I met the author of Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit, who discussed all of the negative events or ‘news’ that were prevented by the efforts of activists, and how the absence of news is never reported. The result of this is that a light is never really shone on the impact of much of the great work being done.

In our first 2019 issue of the Journal of Paramedic Practice, we launch a new column written by Consultant Paramedics (I know what you're thinking: what do those guys do anyway?)—this is precisely what the column will shed some light on! In this first instalment (p. 37), Daniel Smith discusses the importance of building a positive culture in the paramedic profession. So much good work is being done, but there's a hesitation to share it, talk about it, recognise it. The net result can be the slow creation of a negative culture in the profession where the focus is only on the negative, and your personal and professional wellbeing can begin to fade over your years in practice as a result (p. 6).

Rather than focusing solely on all of the aspects of practice that are lacking, I think what's true news, is what is being done by paramedics and multidisciplinary providers of prehospital care to improve care, and to make the NHS more efficient.

For example, there is an increasing emphasis on ‘see and treat’ and ‘hear and treat’ and Lord Carter's review into the unwarranted variation in NHS ambulance trusts, published in September 2018, emphasised this. There are teams working hard to provide care closer to home for patients, which is improving the quality of care for the patients receiveing ‘the right care, at the right time and in the right place’, and which is also expected to carry the potential to produce £500 million in efficiency savings for the NHS by 2020/21.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) (2018) pilot role for the ‘Urgent Care Practitioner’ was launched earlier last year. The pilot consisted of 12 paramedics and nurses working together in this role and in vehicles that are equipped to treat people on scene. The results have shown that 72% of patients seen by the Urgent Care Practitioners have received the right care without the need to be transported to hospital by ambulance (see and treat). More than half (51%) were supported over the phone (hear and treat) without the need for further ambulance service intervention. The pilot is estimated to have saved more than 1000 ambulance journeys over a 90-day period—the equivalent of approximately 68 full days of emergency ambulance time, or about 1625 hours… now, that is ‘news’.

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