16 May 2012
Patients across the capital stand
to benefit from changes announced today to reduce the number of
ambulances that are cancelled while on the way to emergency
Under the adjustment to the dispatch system –
which will come into effect from 1 June – up to an extra 60 seconds
will be available to get more detailed information on a patient’s
condition and location, to ensure that they receive the right
response, first time.
It is expected that the changes will see more
than 20 per cent fewer vehicles being cancelled once on their way
to incidents. There should also be a significant reduction in the
numbers of unnecessary dispatching of more than one vehicle to
However, the changes will not affect calls to
patients who are reported to have suffered a cardiac arrest and
Staff in a response car and ambulance will continue to be
dispatched immediately to these calls – and the fact that there
will be fewer vehicles being immediately dispatched and then
cancelled to less time-critical incidents should mean that more
staff are immediately available to respond to the most seriously
Work to bring about the changes has been led
by the Service’s Chief Executive, Peter Bradley, in his role as the
Department of Health’s National Ambulance Director.
Deputy Chief Executive Martin Flaherty said:
“Under the current system, we end up cancelling too many of our
staff in cars, on motorbikes and in ambulances while they are on
their way to calls, once it has become clear that the situations
are not as serious as first thought.
“By having this short extra period to better
assess the patient’s condition, we will be able to keep more staff
available to immediately respond to those who have stopped
breathing, which really are time critical incidents.
“We are already reaching this small group of
patients very quickly, and these changes should ensure that this
will continue to further improve.”
The national target for Category A
(immediately life-threatening) calls is to reach 75 per cent within
eight minutes – which the Service has achieved for the last nine
This category of calls is itself divided into
two groups – Red 1 and Red 2 – with Red 1 incidents relating to
patients such as those who are reported to have stopped breathing,
or whose heart has stopped beating so that they are in cardiac
In 2011/12, 81 per cent of these calls were
reached within eight minutes.
All ambulance services across the country will
be expected to show that they can reach 80 per cent of these most
urgent patients within eight minutes by April next year.
- Ends -
Notes to editors: