‘Delivering a strategy that helps us care for our vibrant capital city’
Our Chief Executive Daniel Elkeles sets out his vision for how London Ambulance Service (LAS) will deliver its new strategy to ensure it can continue caring for Londoners over the next five years in an opinion article in the Health Service Journal.
The strategy was launched in September 2023 event at Central Hall Westminster, which brought together LAS staff and some of our partners to hear our ambition to collaborate with our NHS partners to manage increasing levels of demand in the coming years and to tackle and health inequality in the capital.
You can read Daniel Elkeles’s thoughts about the strategy here:
London is a thriving, vibrant city. But its growing population is placing unprecedented demands on our health and social care infrastructure. By 2028 we expect Londoners to make almost 5 million 999 and 111 calls annually – that’s over half its population using our services every year. We can’t manage this level of demand and keep London healthy by standing still.
Our new five-year strategy sets us up to be “the capital’s emergency and urgent care responders”. It will ensure we can keep caring for the capital and will get us where we need to be in the next five years.
Taking on board the views of thousands of Londoners, patient bodies and our partners in healthcare and beyond, we have set out our commitments to London. We will be there for you should you ever need us.
It’s also a rallying call to our partners, especially those in the NHS, that we must find new ways of working together both to deliver care and to stand any chance of tackling the health inequalities that still exist in 21st century London.
We will be focused on three missions.
First, we want to deliver outstanding care whenever and wherever needed. Obviously we need to continue to answer 999 and 111 calls quickly. But while our green uniforms will always be immediately recognisable, gone are the days when our only response is to send an ambulance to take sick people to hospital.
We must continue to grow our presence in communities in different ways – whether that’s working alongside GPs, teaming up with nurses to help patients such as those with mental health issues, providing urgent care to people at the end of their lives, or treating older people who fall and are injured.
We are building an ever more skilled paramedic workforce that can safely reduce unnecessary trips to busy emergency departments. We will treble the number of specialist paramedics to offer these increasingly sophisticated responses to patients.
Second, attracting talented people is an essential part of these three missions. We want to be an increasingly inclusive, well-led and skilled organisation that people want to work for. Staff need continuous development to remain at the forefront of clinical excellence and have opportunities that make paramedicine and the London Ambulance Service, an attractive long-term career choice.
The traditional structures and ways of working in an ambulance service have not always delivered the support, direction and behaviours which such an emotionally challenging job deserves. That’s why we are rolling out a new “teams based” way of working to make sure that support is there.
And as well as investing in our people, we’re investing in technology to help them do their jobs to the best of their ability. For example, we are developing a new app so paramedics can know what happens to their patient after they reach hospital and develop confidence in clinical judgements they make on scene, multiple times a day.
And lastly our organisation has so much to offer the wider NHS because as the only pan-London NHS trust, we connect with every part of the urgent and emergency care system. We are uniquely placed to help improve the health of the capital.
This diverse city has diverse health needs. From the south west with its comparative affluence but generally older demographic, to the younger and rapidly growing population of north east, we’ll use our insights to make a difference and tackle health inequality.
We will see how we can support GPs to provide same-day care or do home visits, we will see how we work with hospitals to staff urgent treatment centres, and we will work with community and mental health providers to create innovative new care pathways for people’s different needs.
We would like to play a greater role in public health and prevention too, devising initiatives each year to tackle disparities in health around the capital. An example is cardiac arrest, where bystander intervention can have an enormous impact on whether a patient survives.
We are training 100,000 Londoners in basic life-saving skills. We would like to be teaching every generation of secondary school children CPR, what do if a friend is a victim of knife crime, and how to use the NHS.
All the while we must cut our environmental impact, including investing in greener vehicles to lessen our contribution to major diseases such as asthma while offering value for money to the taxpayer. Later this year we will take delivery of the world’s first fully electric ambulances.
There are big challenges ahead to move the ambulance service from being on the sidelines of the NHS to becoming the organisation the NHS looks to lead and co-ordinate the capital’s emergency and urgent care services.
Most of our top team have come from acute hospital backgrounds. Our current roles are the most difficult and rewarding jobs we have done in our careers to sustain the extraordinary cultural change required to bring about the values, behaviours, leadership approaches that we need to achieve our ambitions. But I’m confident that with this strategy, we’re on the right path to play our part in making London one of the healthiest global cities in the world.
I hope you will take time to look at our new vision and will follow our progress on this ambitious journey.
This opinion article originally appeared in the Health Service Journal.