In July (2017) NHS England announced a new response programme for Ambulances and 999 calls following the largest clinical ambulance trials in the world carried out by Sheffield University. The new system aims to provide high quality care with the most appropriate response for each patient.

Previously ambulance services were given up to 60 seconds from receiving a call to sending an ambulance. However it was found that call handlers require more time to asses calls to ensure the appropriate response is sent. The old system featured 6 codes, Red 1 and 2, which were for potentially life-threatening cases, and Green 1, 2, 3 and 4 for less severe calls. The new system will require 999 call handlers to assign calls into four categories:

Category 1 will be for life threatening calls which include cardiac arrest and serious allergic reaction. A paramedic will be required on the scene in 7 minutes.

Category 2 will be for emergency calls which include strokes and burns and will require an 18 minute response time.

Category 3 is urgent calls which will include late stages of labour and minor burns and should be responded to in 120 minutes.

All other calls will be in category 4, which is for less urgent calls and should get a response in 180 minutes. (Source: Ipswich Star)

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has welcomed the changes and has claimed the new system will help ensure patients get the correct response time and a high level of care whilst maximising ambulance resources.

Robert Morton, Chief Executive of the EEAST, said “We welcome the recent Ambulance Response Programme announcement as, once the operational changes required are implemented, this will go some way to both improve services to patients and enable us to begin to reduce some of that pressure on staff.”

“Since I joined EEAST it has been apparent we have a significant capacity gap that means we cannot respond to patients as quickly we would like in all cases. This gap also limits our ability to introduce more measures to improve staff health and wellbeing. Moving to these new ways of working will eventually lessen some of the pressure on staff and help provide the right response to patients, first time”.

Based in Colchester and Clacton, Essex, Thompson Smith and Puxon provide Medical Negligence advice across East Anglia. AvMA and Law Society accredited specialist Julian Wilson and his team are experienced in handling medical claims from birth injury to misdiagnosis and treatment delay.

Julian adds “All improvements in any service are to be welcomed and the time taken to get to hospital can sometimes prove critical to patient care. However, it is equally important that the correct analysis is made at the scene of the incident or accident as often we have seen a wrong diagnosis can itself add to delays as well as putting a greater burden on the ambulance service.”

If you think you may have been the victim of a medical accident or inadequate care, contact one of our Medical Claims Advisors on 01206 574431 to find out more about how we can help you with your potential claim.

The figures and quotes featured in this article can be found here.