Meeting increasing demand on the London Ambulance Service

Joint statement from London Ambulance Service and NHS North West London:

“The London Ambulance Service is facing increasing levels of demand, with ambulance crews responding to 14 per cent more patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries this year. Although a rise in demand was planned for, the increase is 3.2 per cent more than expected.

“Despite this, the Service is providing good levels of care to these patients, and is currently exceeding the national target of reaching 75 per cent of patients in life-threatening conditions in eight minutes.

“We have been working together to establish what capacity the Service needs to meet future increases in demand and maintain patient care. It is clear that the Service must work differently and more efficiently to make best use of the funding it receives; however, it has also been identified that more investment is needed to increase staffing levels.

“We are currently considering what changes and investment are required for the next financial year to ensure more staff are available to respond to patients who need an emergency ambulance.”

Background:

  • NHS North West London commissions the London Ambulance Service on behalf of London’s clinical commissioning groups.
  • London Ambulance Service is the highest utilised ambulance service in the UK. Ambulance crews spend 80 per cent of their time dealing with patients. This can peak at 95 per cent when it is really busy. This compares with around 60 per cent for other ambulance services.
  • Overall the number of incidents attended by the Service is up 3.5 per cent this year. Funding was received for a 2.8 per cent growth in overall demand, in line with national efficiency requirements.
  • The Service has responded to 14 per cent more life-threatening (Category A) calls this year; it was funded for 10.8 per cent growth.
  • The Service has recently received an additional £6.2m to maintain levels of service during the busy winter period; this is funding overtime, the use of additional private ambulances and ensure patients with less serious illnesses and injuries are referred to the most appropriate part of the NHS.
  • The London Ambulance Service is providing a good service to patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries; it is currently exceeding the government target of reaching 75 per cent of these patients in eight minutes. Current performance is at 79 per cent.
  • Options for working differently in the future include reducing the time it takes to hand patients over at hospital, providing more clinical advice over the phone to patients who do not need an ambulance response and reducing the number of resources that are sent to individual incidents, where clinically appropriate.

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Notes to editors: