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Landmark adult critical care transfer service covering the South West wins prestigious national award

Last updated: 12/10/2021

    The South West’s Adult Critical Care Transfer Service – one of the first of its kind in the country – has been named as the Critical Care Team of the Year in the BMJ Awards.

    Retrieve, funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement South West and hosted by University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW), launched in November 2020 following a successful pilot in April 2020 during the first COVID-19 surge in the Severn region.

    The team is responsible for transferring critically ill and injured patients who are already in hospitals across the region to specialist centres for treatment and specialist intensive care. They also repatriate patients to a hospital closer to home, when they no longer need specialist care.

    In its first six months - between its launch on 2 November 2020 and 30 April 2021 - Retrieve completed:

    • 365 transfers, of which
      • 71 were classed as time-critical and 127 were urgent
      • 62 of the transfers were repatriations of patients to a hospital closer to home when they no longer needed specialist care.

    The success of Retrieve, the South West Adult Critical Care Transfer Service, has also been integral in the development of a new national service specification to ensure the long-term future of adult critical care transfer services in England.  NHS England have recently announced recurrent funding for Retrieve and other regional transfer services across the country, guaranteeing the longevity of this important service.

    Dr Scott Grier, clinical lead for the service, said: “It is hard to convey how significant an achievement it has been to develop Retrieve from concept to launch within six months for a multi-million pound project that would usually take years. 

    “Retrieve’s development was expedited by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the service developed, the threat of further pandemic waves was never far from our thoughts and we designed it to be scalable, flexible and agile. This has proven essential during 2021, with Retrieve becoming a key element of the region’s critical care response as well as helping provide mutual aid to other regions. 

    “Retrieve’s primary aim and focus is to provide our critically ill and injured patients in the South West, who require transfer between hospitals, with a high-quality service that is equitable across our complex geography. 

    “In recent months, adult critical care transfer has achieved national recognition at the most senior levels of the NHS and this has resulted in the development and publication of a new service specification for adult critical care transfer services, ensuring the long-term provision of dedicated services for all adults in all regions of England. Retrieve has been integral in shaping this specification and we continue to work with colleagues across the country to lead the way on our journey to improve critical care transfer care for all.

    “Winning the Critical Care Team of the Year in the BMJ Awards is a fantastic achievement and testament to all of the hard work of everyone involved in developing and running the Retrieve service.”