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SECAmb welcomes new ambulance response standards introduced to improve patient care

13 July 2016

Ambulance on lightsSouth East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) has welcomed the introduction of new system of national ambulance response standards aimed to ensure patients in the most need get a quicker response.

The standards, which were announced by NHS England today, (13 July 2017), will be rolled out over the coming months and are designed to ensure that the most suitable high-quality response is delivered to every patient in an appropriate clinical timeframe.

The new standards, which have undergone rigorous testing on more than 10 million 999 calls as part of the Ambulance Response Programme, will allow ambulance services to focus attention on providing an even faster response to patients who are truly life-threatened while also reducing transport delays for all other categories of patients.

The new system gives Emergency Medical Advisors (EMAs) in Emergency Operations Centres extra time to assess the level of clinical response a patient (who is not immediately life-threatened) may need and then more accurately decide on the most appropriate resources to send. This means that ambulance resources are then more likely to be available to patients with life-threatening conditions including those in cardiac arrest.

A new pre-triage set of questions will identify those patients in need of the fastest response earlier than occurs at present. In calls which are not deemed immediately life threatening, EMAs will also be given up to 180 seconds longer to get all the information they need from a person making a 999 call before deciding on the right type of response. This is called Dispatch on Disposition.

At the same time a new evidence-based set of clinical codes has been introduced into ambulance control systems that better match the patient’s presenting condition with the most suitable ambulance response requirement.

For the most serious calls, where every second counts, ambulances continue to be dispatched immediately. This group of patients will now be designated Category 1. The category is expected to contain almost double the number of patients who were in the original top Red 1 category, thereby ensuring that all those patients with a life-threatening emergency continue to receive the fastest possible response.

South East Coast Ambulance Service Chief Executive Daren Mochrie said: “We welcome the introduction of these new national ambulance response standards. They will ensure we are better placed to respond to our patients more efficiently and with the most appropriate resource. As well as ensuring greater availability of our ambulance crews they also bring a greater focus on clinical outcomes for patients.”

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