Ambulance 999 responses to change17th May 2012
Ambulances bosses have welcomed a change to 999 response times in England.
From June, operators will be allowed an additional one minute before they need to send ambulance crews to serious but non-life-threatening callouts.
The change follows trials in the West Midlands and London areas which showed that the extra time meant fewer double dispatches, where two crews are sent.
This change effectively freed up additional resources.
NHS ambulance managers suggest that this will avoid thousands of wasted ambulance journeys but also save up to 150 lives a year.
At present, two crews are often sent to such a call to ensure the patient is reached quickly enough.
But by taking the extra time to obtain a clearer picture of what is happening before despatching the crew, improvements to the service could be made without affecting the overall response time.
National ambulance director Peter Bradley said: “Making this small change will mean more ambulances and rapid responders will be ready to go and help patients - rather than be stood down while on their way to somewhere they aren't needed.”
Under the new system, the most serious category A calls will be split into Red One cases where somebody has had a cardiac arrest or is unconscious and not breathing with crews to be sent immediately and Red Two calls where the despatcher will get an additional 60 seconds to decide on the response.
Ambulances on category A calls will still need to get to the patient within eight minutes.
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