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This week saw the formal launch of the EU INTERREG VA funded cross-border community paramedic project, which secured €1.1 million for an 18-month period.

The Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) Health and Social Care Partnership, is in collaboration with the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the National Ambulance Service in Ireland. Community paramedics associated with this project are undergoing specialised training accredited by Glasgow Caledonian University. The project has recently commenced and is enabling community paramedics to provide safe and effective care to patients in their own homes and communities, in addition to reducing unnecessary ambulance transports to emergency departments.

The project aims to target specific patient populations in remote and rural and border areas of the three regions, beginning with the four pilot localities of Buncrana, Co. Donegal and Clones, Co. Monaghan in the border region of Ireland, Castlederg, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland, and the Argyle & Bute region in SW Scotland.

The scheme will not only provide community paramedic training to eligible individuals, but a portion of the funding will be invested in new rapid response vehicles for the pilot areas in the three ambulance regions, fitted out specifically to provide care to patients in their homes or their community.

Speaking at the launch event in Dublin, Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE, welcomed this new initiative, commented: “Emergency Care pressures are a constant challenge for all health systems in Europe. This innovative project, enabled by EU funding and collaboration with other member states, is a good example of how we can ensure patients receive the right care in the right place while also easing some of the pressures on our Hospital Emergency Departments.  I have no doubt that it will be successful and that we will be rolling it out across Ireland as a key part of our Urgent and Emergency Care system in the coming years”.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by both Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland and by the Scottish Government.