Service receives positive feedback from patients with non-urgent conditions

Londoners with non-urgent medical conditions who have phoned for an ambulance or been treated by ambulance staff are very satisfied with the level of care they received.

A survey of these patients, termed Category C, was carried out last year by the Care Quality Commission. It focused on the views of people whose conditions were assessed by call-takers to be behind conditions that are immediately life-threatening (Category A), or serious but not immediately life-threatening (Category B).

During 2008/09 the Service received 324,251 Category C calls, almost 23 per cent of the total calls received. Patients in this category include those with back pain, ankle injuries, headaches, or people who have had a minor fall but have not reported symptoms that would suggest they were in a serious or life-threatening condition. The survey showed that many of these patients have long term conditions (60 per cent in London).

Ninety-seven per cent of respondents said that they had received a good, very good or excellent level of care. Service staff attending the calls were also found to be reassuring. Ninety-seven per cent of patients said that they felt reassured and 99 per cent had trust and confidence in the staff who attended them. Patients felt they were treated with dignity and respect (97 per cent) and 98 per cent felt staff explained their care and treatment in a way they could understand.

Chief Executive Peter Bradley said: “It’s encouraging to know that our patients with non-urgent conditions feel we provide a good service. The majority of these patients may not need an ambulance on blue lights and sirens, but they often have complex conditions that need medical attention, whether it is from us or another healthcare agency. We’ll be looking closely at the survey findings to see how we can improve our service further for these patients.”

The Service has implemented a number of initiatives to ensure that Category C patients receive the best possible care:

  • Clinical telephone advisors give advice over the phone to patients who may not need to be visited by our ambulance staff. According to the survey forty-eight per cent of people who made the phone call themselves spoke to a clinical advisor.
  • Our emergency care practitioners are trained to treat a wide range of different conditions, particularly related to chronic conditions, minor injuries and illnesses.
  • A&E support staff attend calls to patients who do not have a life-threatening illness or injury, or need us to turn up immediately. However, they often need some level of medical care, as well as a little kindness and reassurance which A&E support staff can provide.

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Notes to editors

  • For further information about the London Ambulance Service or this news release please contact the Communications Department on 020 7921 5113.
  • The survey was carried out by the Picker Institute on behalf of the Healthcare Commission, which is now part of the Care Quality Commission. The Care Quality Commission is the new independent regulator of all health and adult social care in England.
  • For more information on the national survey, visit www.cqc.org.uk