A tool designed and built by the NHS, for the NHS.
Delivering instant access to quality health service information for every healthcare professional.
Claire: It's a fantastic one-stop shop. It's your go-to place where you can find any information about local pathways in your own area.
Sara: It gives me the confidence to be able to signpost patients and also know what services are in the area.
Charlie: I think the way I would describe it is, just in really simple terms, it's a trusted phone directory providing you as a healthcare professional with access to the national NHS database of services.
Claire: My name's Claire Hall.
Charlie: I'm Charlie Adler.
Sara: My name is Sarah Davis. I am an area relief dispenser and for pharmacy.
Claire: I am a Clinical Pathways Lead for Southeast Coast Ambulance Service.
Charlie: I'm a paramedic with Southeast Coast Ambulance Service. I have been since 2014.
Sara: I've been doing it for around 10 years now.
Claire: I'm a paramedic and I have been for about 13 years, and also a Paramedic Practitioner for the last three or four years.
Sara: NHS Service Finder is my guide to every area; so it’s my pocket guide to all services, all surgeries, and being able to access them.
Charlie: So, trusted information which the NHS has maintained for a long time on its systems but which previously hasn't been available to every single healthcare professional user in the country.
Sara: It frees up me chasing details I'm not very familiar with and I can just put it all into one service database and it will give me all those details I need.
Claire: You need to be able to go to a Service Finder really fast, and get the information that you need fast, and also have the assurance that you know that that is reliable and that you're taking the patient to the right place at the right time and not wasting a lot of time trying to search for the correct hospital that you need to be taking that patient to.
Sara: The only method available before Service Finder came along was having a great big file in every pharmacy with all details of all services.
Claire: Before we started using Service Finder basically every operational unit had all of their local pathways on everybody's individual private telephones or on printed PDFs that were put into the doors of of all the ambulances and these then had to be periodically updated by local managers, and we had no way of knowing whether they were reliable whether they were up to date.
Charlie: It was always reliant on us finding information out and editing it and uploading it. There was no governance behind it, you know? The services that we thought existed or we thought we ought to be using we put on these platforms, but from a governance point of view it was not ideal.
Sara: You’d go to contact one of these services and the phone number wouldn't be available anymore, or you'd find that the department had changed or moved location so when you're actually giving those details to the patients they could be out of date by the time you were passing that information on.
Claire: We were exploring different ways of getting all of this information in one place and up-to-date and with a user-friendly way of staff accessing it. We've been exploring that for quite a few years and so we all decided we were going to develop Service Finder and input all of our information into Service Finder.
Charlie: So for Service Finder to come along at this time and replace that capability with something which was trusted, which tapped into known good data was… it totally met my need as a clinician and it totally met the assurance needs of my organisation
Sara: How Service Finder has helped me to help patients: so it's helped me in a number of ways. I've had customers coming in who need an out of hours service or aren't familiar with the area, and what I can then do is put that information into Service Finder and find those facilities.
Claire: More and more we're finding across the whole of SECAmb that each individual hospital has its own particular processes, its own particular telephone numbers, and we may want to try various different telemedicine methods different processes for each of those hospitals, and really the only reliable way of doing that is to have it all on Service Finder so that a crew knows exactly where to look for that information in each individual case.
Charlie: On nearly every single ambulance shift that I work, particularly if I'm working at a daytime shift, I need to speak to it to a patient's GP, several times a shift often, and just to be able to communicate to them that, you know, I've seen their patient, that they don't need to go to the emergency department, that I'm making them safe at home, but they've got a need which I've identified through my clinical assessment to be picked up and carried on by their GP in primary care, so I need that I need the GP’s phone number.
Sara: So what we have been able to do, myself and my team, is advise patients of other facilities. So, out of hours dentist without having to go to a walk-in centre - we can refer them in. And dressing service. So with this, this will impact upon the waiting times and the amount of patients that are going through to a walk-in center.
Charlie: We use Service Finder just to be able to track the GP surgery address, the contact details, and potentially many GP surgeries have bypass numbers, or back door numbers as they're sometimes called, which means that we can ring through to the reception desk or the doctor team without having to wait in the the automated queue.
Sara: We've been able to transfer that information to the patient to access those services which those patients would normally turn up at, for example, out of hours, or they could even turn up at emergency services in the hospital, and that's not required.
Claire: Whereas previously we would have had to phone the critical care desk and ask them for information about those particular pathways, or we would have had to be looking through pages and pages of data that was kept as a PDF copy in the individual ambulance, or you would have been having to phone the local Bronze Commander, for example, now we can go straight to Service Finder and get all that information, and it saves a lot of time and a lot of anxiety as well.
Charlie: We also in the Trust have put all of our pathways onto Service Finder. So, we've made the decision to have it as the single source of the truth for everything from, like I say, Primary Care, GP contact details, all the way through to the really acute critical pathways.
So, if someone's having a stroke, it has all of the information around the specialist stroke centres, it has all of the detailed information around the major trauma networks and the major trauma centres, the trauma units and the local A&E departments, all of which take different categories and triage levels of major injury. And finally it also contains all the information around the primary percutaneous coronary intervention services, which are the heart attack centres effectively. So I might use any of those options and more in any given shift.
Sara: Without Service Finder I would constantly have to go into each Pharmacy, and before I start my day I would have to find out local services, GP practices, contact numbers, just to be able to know who I would go to or what I would do should I need to access that information for a patient.
Charlie: I think without a tool like Service Finder, humans will be humans. They'll try to do the best that can with the services they know about or that they think they know about. So we'll go back to those days of keeping our own local notebooks or Excel spreadsheets of services.
But the problem with all of those systems is that they're just not robust.
Claire: Well it would create variance across the patch. So, if you weren't working in your local area, and you needed to get a patient to a hospital that you weren't familiar with, it may cause delay and one patient might get a faster treatment than another patient, which is clearly not a good thing to happen.
Sara: If I didn't have Service Finder I would not be able to confidently go into these pharmacies on a daily basis and be able to accurately give patients information that they might need.
Charlie: So, in comparison to something like Service Finder, where you're basically asking the system what services are there and it will always return you the freshest information. And that's something that any local solution can't really match.
Sara: So what Service Finder does for me… it gives me that confidence and that knowledge that I can speak to patients and I can offer advice. Even though I'm not from the area, I can still give them access to services within their area.
Charlie: And I guess the worst case scenario without a tool like Service Finder… then this binary decision that ambulance crews sometimes face which is to take to hospital or not to take to hospital… it gets skewed towards hospital. And every day across the country there are cases when ambulance clinicians, although wanting to do all they can to keep the patients at home or in the community, they just can't access the services they need to do that safely. And unfortunately it does mean patients go to emergency departments in order to access the part of the healthcare system that they ultimately need. And I don't think that's particularly fair on the patient, it's certainly not satisfying as a healthcare professional, and I don't think it's helpful for the Urgent and Emergency Care system either.
Claire: It's proved itself absolutely as a very, very useful tool.
Sara: If you're not already using Service Finder, I would say, get a log-in - it will be your best friend.
Charlie: Get an account. It takes minutes to create an account. You can use it on any device. See what it can do.
Claire: It will give you that assurance that everything is up to date and that you're using the right pathways.
Sara: To me, it's a tool that you use every day to make your everyday tasks a little bit easier.
And if you haven't already got a login, please go and get a login, because it will save you so much time. It will build your confidence and not only that, it will benefit your patients.
Claire: Just get using it, because once you start using Service Finder and you actually see that it’s very, very user friendly, it becomes your go-to. You will wonder how you ever did without it.
Charlie: I can't imagine going back to trying to do my clinical job without a tool like Service Finder now. And the fact that it's free, it's NHS, and it's constantly being developed with input from clinicians from a range of backgrounds. It's a really, really fantastic tool.