New ways of working across blue light services are key to future success for London Ambulance Service, says Assembly

Innovative ways of working − such as combining ambulance and fire stations − will help London Ambulance Service cope with growing demand at a time of budget cuts, a new report from the London Assembly says.

The London Ambulance Service (LAS) is the busiest in the country, with 1.5 million 999 calls a year and at a time of cost cutting and staff reductions, demand is rising.

The Assembly Health and Public Services Committee report says that to cope with these challenges, the LAS should look at ways to work more closely with the capital's police, fire and transport organisations − which are led by the Mayor − in order to find efficiencies, while remaining firmly embedded in the NHS.

The future of the London Ambulance Service says the LAS could share ambulance stations with the London Fire Brigade − currently 41% of ambulance stations in London have a fire station within 1 km.

The report highlights innovative ways of working such as 'see and treat'. This will depend on increasing the skills and training of paramedics and including doctors on ambulances so life saving treatment can be given more quickly, rather than just taking patients to hospital. 

Victoria Borwick AM, Chair of the Health and Public Services Committee said: "The London Ambulance Service provides a good service for Londoners, but it is facing enormous change − demand is growing, it is losing staff as it deals with funding cuts, and the NHS is undergoing major commissioning reforms.

"If it is going to continue to perform well in the face of such challenges, the organisation needs to find new and closer ways of working with London's police, fire and transport services, as well as other parts of the NHS. For example, they could work with the NHS to get much better live-time information about the availability of a 'place of safety' where people with mental health issues can be properly cared for.

"The LAS needs to equip as many staff as possible with the skills to treat patients in their homes or even over the phone, rather than transport them elsewhere in the health service. It could also save money if it jointly procures fuel, uniforms and equipment.

"By making these changes, we believe London Ambulance Service will continue to provide a good service for Londoners when they need it most."

 

The report also proposes:

  • The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime should review ambulance calls from the police - last year 300 ambulances were sent out every day at police request but only one of these was needed to save a life. The LAS should also consider paramedics joining police patrols to attend to road traffic accidents.
  • The Mayor should have a more formal role in the oversight of the service, through representation on the LAS new Council of Governors.
  • The LAS should be invited to join the London Health Improvement Board - chaired by the Mayor − and to participate in proposals drawn up by the Mayor and London Councils for integrating door-to-door services.  

There will also be an opportunity for individuals to become part of the service when it is expected to become a Foundation Trust.

 

Posted December 16th, 2011 at 0900 by Andrew. Comment by emailing: andrew.lynch@pavpub.com