Ambulance service can transform patient care says NHS Confederation

Wednesday, 18 June, 2008

The Ambulance Service Network today unveils its vision for emergency and urgent care, including the pilot of a new national phone number for urgent care to sit alongside 999 to help patients get the services they need, particularly out of hours.

The ASN's radical new vision will be launched at the NHS Confederation conference, taking place in Manchester from Weds 18 - Fri 20 June 2008.

The Network calls for a single point of access for all urgent care to improve patients' outcomes and experiences. The single point of access would be backed up by a range of services available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This would require a directory of services with real time information showing where urgent care services are available near the patient including paramedics that provide care in the local community or patients' homes, GPs, walk in and urgent care centres, minor injuries units, mental health and social care services, and community nursing teams.

The Network also calls for world class services for critically ill and trauma patients that measure patients' outcomes and experiences as well as response times. The vision for emergency and urgent care would be backed up by a system of commissioning and funding that incentivises services to treat patients in the most appropriate place for their clinical need - in specialist centres where necessary and in local communities where possible.

Liz Kendall, the director of the Ambulance Service Network, says:

"Ambulance services are one of the most important gateways to health and social care. 6.3 million patients called 999 in England last year, and 5.1 million incidents were attended by ambulance services.

"Around 1 in 10 of these patients are critically ill or suffering from major trauma. The majority have non-life threatening conditions, such as older people who have had a fall, patients with a long term physical or mental health condition, or a minor injury or illness.

"We want to make sure all our patients get the best care for their needs. Sometimes this will mean an ambulance taking the patient to a specialist centre, for example if they're having a stroke or heart attack, providing high quality clinical care along the way.

"But many of our patients will be better cared for in their local community or home, either by a specially trained paramedic, or other urgent care service.

"We need to change the way the system works to ensure all our patients get the right care, in the right place, at the right time - and that we deliver the best value for money for taxpayers' money."


A single point of access so that patients are consistently assessed and prioritised whichever number they call, and receive the appropriate response.
A new single number for urgent care to sit alongside 999 piloted to assess the potential to further simplify access and support more effective coordination of care.
World-class services nationwide for critically ill patients and those suffering from major trauma.
A range of urgent care services across primary, secondary and community care available 24/7, including GPs in and out of hours, walk-in and urgent care centres, minor injuries units, social care and mental health services and community nursing teams.
World class commissioning for emergency and urgent care involving all NHS and social care partners, with patient outcomes and experiences used to measure success.
Real time information and data about emergency and urgent care services and patients' health records shared across the health and social care system.
Appropriately trained and skilled ambulance service staff working in multi-disciplinary teams across a variety of settings, taking care to the patient as well as taking the patient to hospital.
A system of funding that incentivises services to treat patients in the most appropriate place for their clinical need.

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