Improving ways of working to help save lives

Date: 20 September 2018


We are improving the way EEAST works so that crews can provide life-saving treatment to the sickest patients more quickly.

Crews transporting a clinically-stable patient to hospital already occasionally stop at a separate incident, such as a road traffic collision or cardiac arrest, to provide immediate, life-saving care until another ambulance arrives. The Trust is now formalising this process, in line with all other ambulance trusts.

The decision to stop is at the discretion of the crew and would only be made if they felt it would not impact on their patient’s care. They would stand down as soon as a second crew arrived, and under no circumstances would patients share an ambulance.

Dr Tom Davis, EEAST Medical Director, said: “This is one of the actions we are taking to further improve our services and to get life-saving care to patients more quickly, and is expected to benefit a very small number of critically-ill patients.

“As always, patient safety is our number one priority. Our crews would make the final decision on whether it would be appropriate to stop at another incident, and would always be expected to say no if they felt it would compromise the safety or treatment of any of our patients. Our clinicians are highly experienced, well trained and make complex patient care decisions every day, and we are confident that they can make decisions about when it is and when it is not appropriate to stop and render assistance at a life-threatening incident.”

Nineteen clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the east of England has agreed a six-year contract with the ambulance service, which will see funding rise from £213.5m in 2017/18 to £225m in 2018/19. This money will be used to recruit, train and educate 330 additional staff over the next three years and secure an additional 160 new vehicles so that EEAST can continue to improve services to patients and reduce pressure on existing staff.

The Trust’s most senior Paramedic and Chief Executive Robert Morton said: “We are grateful for the support we have received from our CCGs, which will enable us to improve services for our patients over the next three years. In the meantime, it is important that we consider every option to make ongoing improvements as part of our winter planning and preparation.

“Regrettably, some media reports have described this process as ‘ambulance sharing’, which is simply false. This improvement is building on current practice where our crews have saved lives by stopping to medically intervene in small numbers of life-threatening cases. All of our crews clearly understand that the modern ambulances we operate are designed for one stretchered patient only. 

“We are confident that this will make a positive difference to some patients by ensuring those in the greatest need receive immediate help as quickly as possible.”

  • Summary:

    We are improving the way EEAST works so that crews can provide life-saving treatment to the sickest patients more quickly.