Friday, 29 November 2013

New Funding for Greater Emergency Services Collaboration

On Tuesday 19th November 2013 the inaugural Blue Light Innovation Conference took place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre and attracted an even spread of 400 senior delegates from the police, ambulance and fire and rescue services.

The energy on the day from delegates, speakers and suppliers was infectious and made for lively debates during the question and answers sessions, networking breaks and interactive seminars. Bearing the recent Knight Review and the Government joint working agenda, debates on the date centred on how cross agency collaboration and effective leadership can improve performance and efficiency.

The day kicked off with a keynote from the Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice, The Rt Hon Damian Green MP who delivered a charming and insightful speech into maximising joint working, and innovative strategies he was putting in place to improve to blue light service delivery. The Minister stressed that that joint working makes business and operational sense and came with his “cheque book”. The Minister announced a £50 million police innovation fund for 2014/15 to incentivise collaboration between blue light services to deliver further efficiency. Further still, he announced he will be giving a £20million fund for Police and Crime Commissioners as a precursor to the innovation fund from now. He also shared how the Department for Communities and Local Government will be putting forward £75million fund to support transformation change in the fire service in 2015/16; giving a total of £195million for the blue light services over 3 years to take forward joint working, saving money and improving services for the public.

Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher followed the Minister’s session sharing with the attendees the successes achieved in the first hour of response to a complex incident as a result of the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) that he chairs and detailed process improvements; findings from the JESIP blue light survey and future joint training with the National College of Policing NARU and LRF partners. This session was followed by a lively questions and answers session mainly exploring the Ministerial funding announcements and the specifics into achieving successful joint working. The networking breaks throughout the day were inspirational with relationships being made, contacts renewed and passions for improvement discussed. The busy exhibition, full of key suppliers, also played an important part in the day’s success, facilitating networking and an opportunity for delegates to find solutions to meet their needs.

Following the break, Merseyside Police, Fire and Rescue presented their work as a case study and discussed their cross service collaborative Joint Command and Control Project. Areas discussed included governance; regional service demands and building a new site to meet operational requirements. This was followed by Paul Nicholson, Assistant Director of IM&T at North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust who covered the 111 service, new commissioning structures, triage system (NHS Pathways) across the NHS, changes to ambulance service delivery and the Single Point of Access to joint emergency services working with urgent care units. What was particularly clear from this session is that there is still some way to go in merging Ambulance Services with Police and Fire and Rescue. The morning session was closed by the only independent Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball who was praised by Damian Green MP earlier in the day, gave a measured but candid insight into how Warwickshire police authority has made significant savings whilst exploring the bumpy journey to joint working which juggled different cultures and opinions.

Following lunch, further networking and interactive, supplier led seminars into the latest innovation techniques, the afternoon plenary kick off with the highly anticipated speech from John Wailing, Chief Technology Advisor at the Home Office. Mr Wailing discussed the Emergency Service Mobile Communications Programme and the new ESN (Emergency Services Network) within the context of progress to delivery smarter, quicker and more productive services. His session also explored the challenges of data exchange, the need for broadband to meet communication demands, ensuring choice of device for the task at hand through improved procurement practice and finally covering the future of Long Term Evolution. This session was followed by Tom Bennett, Director of Technology Services, Devices and Laboratories from EE who supplemented Mr Wailing’s session with more technical insight into encouraging greater mobility and merging networks through partnerships across the UK. Finally, Mick Trosh, ITS Project Lead from ACPO closed the conference by discussing the emergency service vehicle challenges and innovations for the large blue light fleet required to serve and protect the public.

Thank you to all that contributed to the day, and with the agenda of joint working growing in strength we look forward to welcoming you all back to next year’s Blue Light Innovation Conference in the autumn of 2014.