Ambulance service's innovative schemes improve emergency response times

Darlington and Stockton Times: NEW MOVES: Yorkshire Ambulance NHS Trust has reported a sharp improvment in its emergency responses in the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby area. NEW MOVES: Yorkshire Ambulance NHS Trust has reported a sharp improvment in its emergency responses in the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby area.

AN NHS ambulance trust that was accused of putting lives at risk has seen a dramatic improvement in its emergency response times after introducing innovative projects.

Latest figures show Yorkshire Ambulance NHS Trust reached 81 per cent of patients with life-threatening conditions within eight minutes in the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby area in October, where earlier in the year it had only achieved 57 per cent.

The Government's target is for ambulance services to reach 75 per cent of emergency calls within that time, but it is widely accepted that target would be difficult to achieve in rural areas and the trust’s latest figures put it among the highest performing trusts in the country.

The projects include the introduction of system allowing GPs to book patients needing hospital treatment non-emergency transport run by the trust and a protocol following a 999 call where patients can be booked GP appointments if their condition does not require hospital treatment.

It said the introduction of full-time paramedic practitioners in GP practices, such as in Sleights and Sandsend, near Whitby, to treat minor injury and minor illness referrals and new ambulance stand-by points at strategic locations in Catterick Village, Bedale and Richmond had also helped improve response times.

A trust spokesman said the moves had led to a steady improvement in its response to emergencies as more ambulances could remain in local communities for longer, and more often, to respond to 999 calls.

Earlier this week, NHS England figures showed the trust was failing to meet targets for emergency responses over its 6,000sq mile area by only reaching 74 per cent of patients within eight minutes.

Dr Charles Parker, GP lead for urgent care at Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby clinical commissioning group, said: “The new initiatives ourselves and Yorkshire Ambulance Service have put in place over the past year are coming to fruition and demonstrating clear improvements.

“Our challenge now is to continue this strong progress and ensure we sustain the improvements, especially over the coming winter months.”

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) remains another of the best performing ambulance trusts, reaching just under 80 per cent of the most serious cases within eight minutes.

A NEAS spokeswoman said: “While that’s a good level of performance, we are never complacent.

“We already do a number of the initiatives which have recently introduced by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, such as partnership working.

“The public can help us make sure we have ambulances free to reach patients most in need by only using 999 when it’s a genuine emergency. If it’s something other than an emergency, call 111.”

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