Ambulance service chief backs call for more community care

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The head of East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) has backed calls for paramedics to provide even more care in the community.

Phil Milligan, chief executive of EMAS, was commenting on a report published today (July 24) by the Government’s Health Committee.

It followed an enquiry, held earlier this year, into the strains on urgent care and services, warning that growing demand on hospital accident and emergency departments will make them unsustainable if action is not taken soon.

Mr Milligan said: “The review of health and emergency services was carried out in response to the ever increasing demands being experienced by the emergency care system.

“From an ambulance service perspective, I’m pleased to see the committee has recognised the potential we have to offer by carrying-out an even more central role looking after patients in the community.

“The report says ambulance services should be seen as care providers and not a service that simply readies patients for journeys to hospital. I agree with this 100 per cent.

“Ambulance services have made massive strides forward over recent years when it comes to staff’s clinical skills and our highly skilled 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.

“In another measure to reduce hospital emergency attendances, it’s recommended that we provide “over the phone” treatment and advice for patients. Again, we’re already doing this and we expect to expand this, working closely with other community services. 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.”

EMAS provides emergency 999 and urgent care for the 4.8m million people in Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Lincolnshire (including North and North East Lincolnshire), Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.

With an annual budget is £147m, it operates around 530 vehicles, including emergency ambulances and fast response cars.

Every day the service receives around 2,000 calls from members of the public calling 999 - the equivalent of one 999 call every 45 seconds.