Handlers need extra assessment time

ON CALL Suella Fernandes MP with members of the Fareham and Gosport Ambulance service
ON CALL Suella Fernandes MP with members of the Fareham and Gosport Ambulance service
The Public Service Plaza, Havant Borough Council offices
Picture: Allan Hutchings (150078-158)

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Fareham MP Suella Fernandes says how vital it is that our Ambulance service has more time to respond to emergency calls

My morning shift started at 7.30am with Lloyd and Mike, Paramedics with South Central Ambulance Service.

After the de-brief, I spent the morning with the pair, in the ambulance, responding to calls around the Fareham and Gosport area.

These included an urgent response to a suspected heart attack, an elderly resident falling over whilst getting out of bed and a distress call from a mentally ill patient.

The visit was informative and inspiring as I saw firsthand how dedicated, professional and responsive our ambulance service is.

The ambulance service is a core component of the NHS in England; trusted to provide a swift and professional response to sudden illness at any time of the day or night.

In recent years demand has risen steadily, exceeding that of A&E attendances and hospital admissions.

In January, the Secretary of State for Health announced that NHS England was to pilot a change to the way ambulance services respond to 999 calls, based on clinical advice that this will improve the chances of survival for patients, especially those with the most serious conditions.

In light of the unprecedented increase in demand for ambulance services at the end of 2014, NHS England considered whether there were any changes which could be brought forward quickly in order to help ambulance services maintain positive clinical outcomes for patients.

In a letter from Professor Keith Willett, the National Director for Acute Care at NHS England, significant evidence was set out to suggest that giving call handlers extra assessment time to make the right decision for the patient could improve clinical outcomes and improve someone’s chances of survival.

That is why Ministers agreed that giving call handlers very limited extra assessment time would ensure that ambulances are better deployed to where they are most needed.

I am also pleased that the Health Secretary recognises the importance of recruiting more paramedics to meet the increased public need.

I welcome the fact that there are currently 2,000 more paramedics across England, compared to 2010, and that Ministers plan to recruit a further 1,700 over the next few years in order to continue to improve the quality of care received by patients.

There is a lot of great work being carried out by our ambulance service and I thank them for being so welcoming.