New vision unveiled for emergency care

Tuesday, 01 July, 2008

A radical new vision for emergency and urgent care was unveiled by the Ambulance Service Network at last month's NHS Confederation conference.

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, seven days a week. This would require a directory of services with real time information showing where urgent care services are available near the patient.

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 encourages 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, commented, "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."

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