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March 31, 2011

UK ambulance service monitored on quality of service

By Rob Smyth
Burton Mail

NOTTINGHAM, England — East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) will be implementing 11 new 'Clinical Quality Indicators' from Friday.

The new system will replace the national Category B 19-minute response time target for non life threatening calls.

The Category A life-threatening call time target continues unaltered.

But for non life-threatening calls, services will not be measured simply on time alone, but on how they treat patients and the outcomes of the treatment.

EMAS medical director James Gray said: "Clearly a fast response to a 999 call can help to make all the difference, but for a long time we have said that it is the care that we provide to the patient that is just as important as how quickly we arrive.

"We welcome the introduction of Clinical Quality Indicators as they will allow us to look at the whole 'patient journey' and so improve patient care and outcomes.”

This comes just one week after the Mail reported that EMAS were set to be fined around £5m for not reaching patients quickly enough.

Bad weather in December last year led to a rise in the number of calls that the service received and as a result meant extra pressure being placed on response times.

A newly released report has highlighted that the service was 'unlikely' to achieve its annual Government target to respond to 75 per cent of life-threatening calls, known as Category A, within eight minutes.

It also looks like the service may also struggle to meet its requirement for responding to Category B calls.

A spokesman added: "We think that the changes will make a big difference to patient care.

"By monitoring the 11 Clinical Quality Indicators we will be able to identify areas of good practice and any areas which need improvement.

"While the changes represent a major change in the organisation, in practice they should have minor operational impact for frontline crews as we will still respond to calls as we do now.”

The new system will come into operation on Friday.

Copyright 2011 Iliffe News and Media Ltd

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