New ambulance procedure cutting response times for life-or-death patients - The Rugby Observer

New ambulance procedure cutting response times for life-or-death patients

Andy Morris 13th Jul, 2017 Updated: 13th Jul, 2017   0

AMBULANCES in the west midlands are responding faster to life-or-death cases after trialling a new system which is now being rolled-out nationally.

West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) is one of three UK ambulance trusts to pilot the new Ambulance Response Programme (ARP) – which has been developed by clinicians over the last 18 months and is the most rigorously tested programme of its kind anywhere in the world.

Under the new system, which was approved by the government on Thursday (July 13), 999 call handlers ask extra questions that can quickly identify high-priority patients – allowing ambulances to be dispatched without delay.

For other types of call, ambulance staff are given more time to assess patients’ needs so the right response can be sent.




WMAS Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, says the efficient pilot scheme has saved vital minutes.

He said: “Since we introduced the Ambulance Response Programme last summer we have been able to get to more patients, more quickly, than ever before, particularly those with the most serious conditions. This has undoubtedly led to lives being saved.


“ARP gives us a chance to send the correct response to each patient, not just the closest. For example, in the case of a stroke patient, under the old system, we might have sent a rapid response vehicle and then an ambulance so that we could stop the clock.

“However, what that patient actually needed was to get an ambulance to the patient and get them to a hyperacute stroke unit. ARP means the patient gets life-saving treatment more quickly allowing a faster and more complete recovery to take place.

“For this type of call, we can show that on average we get a ambulance to that patient over a minute more quickly than we used to; 12:42 as opposed to 13:48. However, for the most serious case – category 1 – we are also getting to patients more quickly because the system is much more efficient.

“Whereas we might have sent multiple vehicles to other cases just to stop the clock, we now just send the right one. This means that the number of times an ambulance vehicle has been dispatched and then stood down has dropped dramatically.

“We already had some of the toughest targets in the world; in many respects, these new ones are tougher still. For example, the number of patients in the most serious category has been doubled from three to six percent. This means that those patients who are truly life-threatened will get a faster response and get the treatment they need even more quickly.

“Not only is the system popular with road staff, it is also popular with control room staff because they know that they have the time to get to the right decision rather than having to react without necessarily having the full information of what a patient really needs.

“In short, there is no doubt that patients and staff are benefitting from the Ambulance Response Programme massively, which can only be a good thing.”

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