Ambulance Service is Saving More Lives

 Friday 28 August 2015

658 out of hospital cardiac arrest lives saved

The Scottish Ambulance Service is saving more lives by developing clinical skills and treatment, refining triage and enhancing integrated care pathways.

Speaking at the Service’s Annual Public Review today, David Garbutt, Chairman of the Scottish Ambulance Service said:

"Despite an exceptionally busy year for our frontline teams, the Service is saving more lives than ever before.  There are now 200 more cardiac arrest patients being saved by ambulance teams in Scotland every year compared to five years ago and we continue to improve on this every year. The clinical standards used to measure survival from cardiac arrest show that ambulance teams saved the lives of 658 cardiac patients in this category last year, up from 509 the year before.

“In the last ten years demand has increased by 55% and last year emergency ambulances responded to almost 750,000 incidents. Around 20% of these cases are potentially life-threatening and more than a third are requests from GP’s, referrals from 111, hospital transfers, community alarms and other emergency services. 

"Every 999 call is triaged in accordance with robust clinical guidelines so that those with most need receive the fastest response, which continues to average around 6.6 minutes for life threatening emergencies, compared to 9.5 minutes a decade ago.

“While the response time is an important aspect of pre-hospital care, the clinical expertise of ambulance teams is key to maintaining good patient outcomes. The ongoing development of clinical care skills is reflected in the consistently high survival rates that are now being achieved in Scotland.

“Our staff are working very hard in an extremely busy environment and every day they continue to provide compassionate, evidenced based care for patients in often very challenging circumstances. Their commitment and dedication to patients is exceptional.
“The air ambulance service flew 3,559 missions, an increase of 5% on the previous year, mainly serving island and remote communities across Scotland.

“The creation of new care pathways is central to extending clinical standards and treating people in their communities. Last year over 86,000 patients were treated safely at home, avoiding a trip to hospital and reducing the pressure on busy A&E departments.

“Ambulance teams are working with the wider NHS and social services to implement more new and integrated clinical pathways that enable the safe delivery of clinical care in the community.
“Falls are the largest single presentation for ambulance response and the Service responded to over 71,000 cases last year. Falls cost the NHS in Scotland over £470 million and in the last 10 years have increased by 47%. The development of integrated community care pathways to safely treat elderly falling patients has resulted in a 15% reduction in the numbers being taken to hospital by ambulance.

“The scheduled care service, which transferred 1,034,952 patients with medical need to their healthcare appointments last year, continued to improve punctuality for appointments from 71% last year to 73.7%.

“Our teams played a significant role in planning and supporting at major events around Scotland last year, including the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup in Gleneagles. They ensured that people were kept safe and well throughout, while maintaining normal day to day ambulance cover in our communities.

“The national retrieval service, ScotSTAR, completed its first year of operations, providing a single integrated national service with a sustainable multidisciplinary medical and clinical team to make best use of the range of road and air transport resources.

“ScotSTAR brings together the three transport and retrieval services; the Scottish Neonatal Service (SNTS), the Transport of Critically Ill and Injured Children Service and the Emergency Medical Retrieval Service, with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS). The team will move into a new purpose built base in Glasgow in the coming weeks.

“We continued to manage resources effectively for the benefit of patients and once again met financial targets for the year, achieving efficiency savings of £8.7 million to be reinvested into front line services.”