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Review makes recommendations to improve ambulance times

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Our health and social care watchdog made seven recommendations this week to help reduce ambulance response and patient ‘handover’ times at acute hospitals.

The recommendations, contained within the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST) Spotlight Review report, was approved by our Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday (June 21).

NHS figures show that over the winter SWAST had slower average response times and longer wait times at acute hospitals than the national average.

The recommendations follow a Spotlight Review at which leaders in the Integrated Care System, which includes us, the NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and SWAST, were invited to share their knowledge and expertise.

The Spotlight Review concluded that an urgent ‘systemwide’ commitment to improve average response times was needed, and that all of Devon’s acute hospitals should adopt the Rapid Patient Assessment and Triage model used by the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

Another recommendation suggested a new campaign to inform people how and where to access urgent and non-urgent medical support and mental health support was needed.

The report also highlights the importance of Minor Injury Units (MIU) and recommends that MIUs with regular service hours and minimum standards should be available across Devon.

Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, Chair of the SWAST Spotlight Review and the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee said:

“The Committee understands the pressure our local NHS and Social Care system is under, and we thank them for their hard work. For many years there has been a lack of capacity in the system to manage seasonal fluctuations or sudden increases in demand and this has led to ambulance crews unable to offload patients at the door within 15 minutes of their arrival. This has an impact on response times and adds to the stress of patients. We wish there was a straightforward answer to improving ambulance response times, and the Spotlight review members were drawn to the complexity of the problem. There is no single solution. I am grateful to all those who generously gave of their time during the review, and I thank them for all their contribution. The Committee will continue to work with the Health and Care sector for the benefit of all of Devon’s residents.”