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Wales to pilot novel ambulance scheme

Monday 10th August 2015
Target times for some ambulances are to be scrapped in Wales under a new pilot scheme to try and improve services.
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    Wales is to introduce a new pilot scheme for its ambulance service, which would mean there would be no target times apart from for the most serious emergencies.

    Under the new scheme, which will be introduced in October 2015, ambulances will be categorised into a traffic light system to determine the severity of the case. During the 12-month pilot programme only red calls will have a target to meet.

    It means that all emergency ambulances will still have an eight-minute response time but all other journeys will not and has been welcomed by the British Medical Association (BMA) Cymru Wales. 

    The Welsh Ambulance Service will instead be based on responding to patient need rather than meeting targets, which it hopes will improve quality of care. The change comes after a review recommended that the country scrapped time-based targets.

    Announcing the changes, deputy health minister Vaughan Gething said the new clinical response model has been designed by Wales’ top ambulance service clinical leaders and has been based on "firm evidence".

    He said it moves away from a 41-year-old system, which was based solely on the eight-minute response time target. Instead, ambulance clinicians will need to ensure they have the "most positive impact" on clinical outcomes and a patient's quality of life.

    It's possible that the system could be rolled out to the entire UK if the pilot scheme proves successful in Wales.

    Wales GPs committee deputy chair David Bailey suggested that the move could be particularly effective in rural parts of the country.

    He said: "What was happening was that with patients in rural areas, there was absolutely no way [ambulances] were going to get to them in the time, so they tended to downgrade those in favour of less serious cases where they could get to within the target times."

    Written by Angela Newbury

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