999 recommendations ‘need to be backed by cash’

EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan
EMAS chief executive Phil Milligan

Recommendations from a new Government report will only bring relief for paramedics and patients if backed by funds and political will, the East Midlands Ambulance Service chief has said.

The Health Select Committe report, published today, suggested ambulances could be treating more patients at the scene to reduce the number of transfers to hospital, while the new 111 non-emergency phone number needed to get better at offering advice.

Phil Milligan, Chief Executive of EMAS said: “From an ambulance service perspective, I’m pleased to see the committee have recognised the potential we have to offer by carrying-out an even more central role looking after patients in the community.

“Paramedics are already carrying out advance treatments on our patients. It would be great if they could be trained in an even broader range of skills so more people are treated at scene rather than being taken to a hospital emergency department.”

EMAS said the MPs’ reccomendation that ambulance services provide ‘over the phone’ treatment and advice for patients was something it was already doing, and it was working with other community services to expand the services.

Mr Milligan said: “If the Government has the will to see these recommendations through and ambulance services are given necessary funding to make the changes, I’m sure it will go a long way to releasing pressure on our hard-pressed hospitals. But more importantly, it will mean that patients receive the best possible treatment in the right place at the right time.

“I look forward to hearing more about the exciting opportunities that may arise from the Health Committee’s work.”

EMAS is not alone in experiencing high demand.

The report says “It is clear from the evidence presented to the committee that demand for ambulance services has increased substantially in recent months.

The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) report that in 2011–12, the total number of emergency calls was 8.49 million. This was an increase of 415,487 (5.1 per cent) from 2010–11.

As of February 2013, of the 12 ambulance trusts in England, only London, the North East, the West Midlands and the Isle of Wight were meeting the core target of responding to 75 per cent of the most urgent type of call out within eight minutes.