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More 999 callers should be treated at home

Major reforms to ambulance service could save billions of pounds

OnMedica Staff

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Major reforms are needed in the ambulance service a conference was told today.

The first Ambulance Service Network Conference which met today was told that many patients who ring 999 could be treated in the community or at home, rather than being taken to a hospital.

Ambulance Service Network director Liz Kendall said this would save taxpayers up to £20 billion over the next 5 years.

"Ambulance Services received over seven million 999 calls last year. The number of calls is increasing by around 6.5% annually - that's 300,000 more patients every year. Many of these patients are older people who have fallen and patients with chronic conditions who could be better cared for in the community or at home," said Ms Kendall.

She added:"The system isn't working as well as it should and ambulance services are determined to work with other parts of the NHS to improve it. We need to make it simpler and easier for patients to access care and provide a range of services - including GPs, community nurses, mental health services, falls teams and paramedics - 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Conference goers were told the Network welcomes the consultation for the creation of a new urgent care number - 111 - to sit alongside 999, and a range of emergency and urgent care services available 24/7.

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