Ambulance response pilot

We are taking part in a trial which aims to improve response times to critically ill patients. The ‘ambulance response pilot’ aims to make sure the most appropriate response is provided for each patient the first time.

It is expected that the programme will improve outcomes for all patients using the emergency ambulance service.

There are three key elements of the programme:

  1. The use of a new pre-triage set of questions to identify those patients in need of the fastest response at the earliest opportunity.
  2. Dispatch of the most clinically appropriate vehicle to each patient within a timeframe that meets their clinical need.
  3. A new evidence-based set of clinical codes that better describe the patient’s presenting condition and response/resource requirement.

Elements one and two are already in place in our service. Element three will be implemented later this year. We will be one of just five services in the country trialling this new way of working.

Current time-based ambulance response standards, applied in the face of rising demand, have led to a range of operational behaviours that are increasingly inefficient. For most patients, 60 seconds to triage and dispatch a resource is not enough time. This leads to ambulance services sending resources before it has been determined what the problem is or sending multiple ambulances to the same patient then standing down the vehicles least likely to arrive first.

For serious but non-life-threatening calls the programme is testing whether giving call handlers at certain ambulance trusts an additional 120 or 240 seconds to get all the information that they need, enables them to select the most appropriate clinical response.

There are conditions where every minute counts in terms of saving a life (eg cardiac arrest) and/or preserving someone’s quality of life (eg stroke) and this programme helps to release significant resources to enable us to respond and treat these conditions more quickly and effectively.