Report Highlights Focus on Patient Care

A report into ambulance services in England recognises that broader measures of performance, other than response times are driving a greater focus on patient care and clinical outcomes.

The National Audit Office report highlights that performance for ambulance services has been driven by response time targets and welcomes the recent introduction of a wider range of clinical measures that focus on outcomes.

The collection and sharing of data is seen as a key priority in the development of clinical skills and treatment and the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) is acknowledged as being at the forefront of the development of electronic patient record systems in the UK. This allows collection and analysis of more detailed clinical data, which can be shared with other clinicians in the NHS and will inform future innovations in care.

The SAS still has to respond to three quarters of all life threatening calls in 8 minutes, however a wider range of clinical performance indicators now relate directly to clinical outcomes, for example in cardiac and stroke cases.

While there are sound reasons why an immediate response for some conditions will always be important factor, the SAS’ strategy focuses on the enhancement of clinical systems and improving patient care. For example, paramedics now work closely with cardiology teams to speed patients to the most appropriate treatment. This means that with on board technology they can measure ECGs, send the information directly to the consultant and discuss appropriate treatment, before taking the patient directly into the cardiology unit, missing out the admissions process in A&E.

The SAS will continue to work with the rest of the NHS to develop an approach that focuses on all of the journey of care, not just the response time.

The full report is available at www.nao.org.uk