The Department has made clear that ambulance clinicians are not expected to take all patients from 999 calls to accident and emergency departments. Some calls may be resolved over the telephone, and some patients may be treated at the scene or in the community and therefore do not need to go to hospital. In 2005-06, national health service ambulance trusts in England received 5.96 million 999 calls, and attended 4.77 million incidents. Of those incidents attended, 73 per cent. resulted in an emergency patient journey. Guidance was issued in 2002, 2004 and 2005 to this effect.
My letter to the Secretary of State for Health expressed the need to build on the Department's action to date on this issue, and emphasised that more patients could be treated at the scene or in the community.