Ambulance services are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with rising demand for urgent and emergency services, according to the National Audit Office.
In a report published on 26 January 2017, they underline several key issues, especially how:
demand for ambulance services continues to rise rapidly with no sign of slowing;
increases in funding for ambulance services have not matched rising demand;
workforce planning issues and a lack of paramedics are contributing towards limiting the ambulance service’s ability to meet rising demand;
delays in being able to transfer care of patients at emergency departments - that are out of the ambulance service’s control - are contributing heavily to keeping crews off the road where they are needed most.
response time targets are not the only factors that should be considered when assessing ambulance service performance – far more important are clinical outcomes and quality of care, which have been shown to improve despite increasing activity.
Despite the universal pressures placed across urgent and emergency care services the Care Quality Commission, our health regulator, rated NEAS services as “Good” and in particular commented upon our positive patient-centred culture; the significant effort to recruit more paramedics; learning from incidents; and improving policies, systems and processes.
The National Audit Office report shows that the North East Ambulance Service performs comparatively well against other ambulance services.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: “Ambulance services are a vital part of the health service but much of their ability to work better greatly depends on other parts of the health system.”
The full report is available here: https://www.nao.org.uk/report/nhs-ambulance-services/