WEST Midlands Ambulance Service is welcoming the Health Select Committee report into emergency and urgent care saying it highlights the growing importance the ambulance service can make in ensuring patients get the right treatment, in the right place and at the right time.
The report notes that ambulance services around the country have evolved in recent years so that they now take care to the patient rather than simply taking the patient to care.
WMAS Trust Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, gave evidence to the committee in June. He said: “A key part of the change is the way in which we are upskilling our staff so that they can treat many more patients there and then, rather than have to transport them to an A&E Department.
“For WMAS, we have been rapidly increasing the number of paramedics we have so that soon, 70% of our frontline workforce will be made up of paramedics; the highest percentage in the country. This means that there will be one of every emergency vehicle we operate.
“In addition, we are training hundreds of our staff to an advanced paramedic level giving them more skills and the ability to treat more patients. For example, the advanced paramedics can now identify if a patient has a urinary infection. This has stopped literally hundreds of patients being taken to A&E. Equally, they can glue lacerations, which again avoids many patients having to be taken to hospital.
“By treating more patients at the scene, it means we are able to target our ambulances on getting critically ill and injured patients, who have conditions such as a heart attack, a stroke or have suffered a serious traumatic injury, to the specialist care they need in hospital, even more quickly than we do currently.
“I must pay tribute to the tremendous work ethic of our staff who have embraced the fundamental changes that we have been introducing over recent years. Many have pushed themselves extremely hard through the likes of university courses so that they can learn the skills necessary to improve the care we provide to patients. I know from speaking to them the benefits that the patients get, but also the sense of achievement that the staff feel at learning the new skills.
“Although there are lots of good things within the report, we recognise that we cannot be complacent. We are committed to working with partners within the healthcare economy to make further improvements.
“This joint working has already resulted in a dramatic improvement in the amount of time it takes to hand patients over to hospital staff at A&E Departments. Delays have been almost completely wiped out, which is not necessarily the case in all areas of the country.
“We now want to take the level of care we provide to the next level. Through joint working between hospitals, commissioners and ourselves, we have seen tremendous improvements to the care provided to heart attack, stroke and trauma patients. We believe that we can develop this further through joint working to other areas of care.
“We recognise that there are still challenges ahead, but fully support the call for closer partnership working to improve the care provided to patients at every level.”