A record 9 million calls were made to Ambulance Services in England last year, a 6% increase on the previous year.
Such an increase has taken its toll, as only 5 out of the 11 Services in England met the target to respond to 75% of the most serious calls received within 8 minutes. Countrywide, only 72% of life-threatening calls were attended within the required period.
Ambulance dispatches only make up one third of all calls made to 999, demonstrating the sheer number of calls made and the pressures placed on staff to properly allocate their limited services. Professor Keith Willett from NHS England points out that these statistics show the growth in ambulance calls outstrips the increase in workload placed on A&E departments.
The fact that only one third of 999 calls result in a dispatch suggests once again that patients are forced to turn to emergency services such as 999 and A&E for conditions that could be treated elsewhere. A lack of GP and easy access out-of-hours services may be leading to the increase in calls.
A pilot scheme is currently underway to allow 999 crews more time to decide whether or not to dispatch an ambulance to less serious calls. Results are so far described as “encouraging”, although this measure will clearly not stop unnecessary calls from reaching 999 in the first place.
Clarke Willmott’s clinical negligence experts represent people who have been seriously injured as a consequence of the delay in dispatch or arrival of an ambulance. Such cases could be reduced with proper use of the 999 emergency number by the public and greater access to access out-of-hours services.
If you, or someone you know, would like to discuss issues arising from medical treatment, call our specialist lawyers on 0800 316 8892 (James.Edmondson@clarkewillmott.com).