The new boss of the ambulance service in Wales admitted his staff have had a “difficult year”, but pledged to turn round the much- criticised service. Unveiling a vast shake-up of the service, Alan Murray said ambulances will automatically be sent out immediately after receiving 999 calls, rather than going through a procedure which delays them.
And for less serious incidents, patients will be treated at home by community-based volunteers or “first-re-sponders” rather than be taken to hospital often across miles of twisting country roads.
Mr Murray will present a draft of his ideas, Time to Make a Difference, to the Trust’s annual meeting in Cardiff today.
He said: “After the phone rings, it’s essential that we use those responders efficiently. Call takers have to get the incident location quickly so the allocators can identify the closest responders and alert them in seconds.
“Community first responders and emergency service responders must be activated without delay if they are needed.
“The responders need to start moving immediately – seconds lost on mobilisation can never be recovered – and must drive progressively and safely to the patient’s side.
“Few patients benefit from extended care at the scene, so it’s important this time is kept to a minimum.”
Mr Murray said hospital hand-over times, where ambulances sometimes have to wait outside, have to be managed so responders become available for the next call.
He added: “A large percentage of our 999 emergencies are not serious or life-threatening.
“Many don’t even need an ambulance response. Most of these callers are not abusing the service.
“They need care but are unsure of what’s available. So for them, effectiveness means something else: helping them to identify their real needs and giving them access to advice, information or appropriate care.”
The Welsh Ambulance Service Trust board had previously approved the modernisation plan, which will cost an extra pounds 137m over the next 10 years, as well as wiping out the estimated pounds 5.4m deficit this year,
A report by Jeremy Coleman, auditor general for Wales, on the future of the service, is about to be published.
Responders need to start moving immediately – seconds lost on mobilisation can never be recovered.