Groundbreaking mobile critical care service celebrates 3000th referral

A groundbreaking service – set up to transport critically-ill adult patients across the country – is celebrating its 3,000th referral, after marking its first year of operation.
ACCESS London (Adult Critical Care Emergency Support Service) is a partnership between Barts Health NHS Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and the London Ambulance Service (LAS). Since its launch on 1 April 2023, ACCESS has received 3,065 referrals and completed 2,532 transfers. The threshold of 3,000 referrals was reached last week. 

ACCESS deploys a fleet of specialist ambulances which are on standby across the capital so that the sickest patients who need expertly-tailored care can be safely moved between hospitals. The vehicles are staffed by expert critical care clinicians and carry advanced equipment including ventilators and specialist monitors, so they effectively act as a network of mobile intensive care units. 

ACCESS is able to facilitate complex moves spanning the entire UK. Furthermore, in January 2024 the service expanded to a 24/7 operation, ahead of schedule. 

Dr David O’Callaghan, critical care lead for north west London and site medical director for Charing Cross Hospital at Imperial College Healthcare, said: “I’m really delighted with the impact of the London-wide transfer service and the difference we’ve made to patients.
“This continues to be a real team effort. Huge thank you to everyone at the Trust and all our partners for making this such a success. I’m looking forward to seeing the service continue to progress, as we’re now a 24-7 service and are able to cross the UK.” 

Dr Mamoun Abu-Habsa, clinical director for ACCESS and a consultant in critical care and emergency medicine, said: “We are immensely proud of the collaborative working that enabled ACCESS to be such a resounding success and transformative capability for critically ill patients across the capital. Clinical excellence will remain at the centre of our vision as we embark on service development in our second year.” 

Dr James Marsh, group deputy chief executive officer for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals and Health Group, and chair of the London Critical Care Collaborative (LCCC) Partnership Board said: “ACCESS has transformed the lives of many critically unwell patients in its first year by providing specialist care to those being transported between hospitals, and that’s set to continue. 

“We’re so proud of what the service has achieved so far and of our highly skilled clinicians who continue to deliver a high-quality service around the clock, seven days a week to Londoners when they need us most.” 
ACCESS was a modelled on the North East London Critical Care Transfer And Retrieval (NECCTAR) service, with input from the other partners on best practice including in our own experience of hosting the north west London transfer service.