Thursday 27th September 2018 – 12.00pm – Murray MacGregor.
A new report shows West Midlands Ambulance Service is the most efficient in the country.
This remarkable success was achieved by being the only ambulance service in the country with a paramedic on every vehicle; having the most modern fleet with all vehicles standardised and none over five years old; and by using some of the most technologically advanced equipment. Together this means the Trust is able to discharge more patients at the scene than any other service, which brings real benefits to patients and hospitals as fewer patients are taken to A&E.
The report by Lord Carter of Coles examines the differences between ambulance services in England. West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “We welcome the report as it recognises the extraordinary lengths that ambulance service staff go to, to help patients but also backs up many of the decisions this Trust has taken over several years.
“Despite being one of the worst funded ambulance services in the country, our unique operating model means we are the only Trust in the country to consistently surpass all of the response targets.
“We have invested heavily in our staff with update training every year. This helps us to achieve the second lowest conveyance rate in the country: only about half of patients are taken to hospital but we are confident that we can reduce that still further.
“We have invested heavily in technology which is recognised nationally and internationally as a Global Digital Exemplar. We have one of the most technologically advanced control centres and over the last few years have rolled out our electronic patient record (EPR) to every vehicle.
“The system automatically takes information from our diagnostic devices such as blood pressure cuff and ECGs and updates the electronic record. Via our clinical support desk, paramedics can also access previous records which can help in diagnosis. The information being recorded can also be seen in real time by the hospital staff as a patient is being conveyed so that the A&E Department can be better prepared for when the ambulance arrives. In addition, a copy of the record is sent electronically to the patient’s GP for their local records.
“We have worked very hard over recent years to improve the support we provide to staff. As well as regular update training, all operational staff get mentored on the job, and we have also provided 24-hour management support on every ambulance station.
“We also support them pastorally: we now have two physiotherapists helping staff who do get injured back to work. We have expanded our peer support networks for staff should they need any help after serious incidents. Together these allow us to have the lowest sickness rate in the country.
“Lord Carter recognises the huge cost and frustration experienced by ambulance services dealing with the unacceptable hospital handover delays. It put a huge extra pressure on my staff, provides poor care for patients and means some patients wait far longer than they should have to, before they receive hospital care.
“We were delighted to have a visit from Lord Carter earlier this year to see the progress we have made over the last five years. It was clear how impressed he was with what we do here in the West Midlands.
“Lord Carter does highlight that there is further work still to be done, which we fully support. There is no doubt that further improvements in technology would benefit our staff and patients alike. We also recognise and welcome his comments about a lack of clinically suitable alternatives to A&E inhibits our ability to keep patients out of hospital. We will study the report closely so that we can make further improvements for the benefit of patients.”
Picture shows (L-R) Student Paramedic Mohammed Azim, Lord Carter of Coles, WMAS Chief Executive Anthony Marsh, Clinical team mentor Leigh Watts.