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Ambulance Services: Emergency Calls

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to implement the recommendation in paragraph 4.13 of Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance services, published on 30 June 2005, to encourage greater clinical decision-making during initial telephone calls to (a) 999, (b) NHS Direct, (c) out-of-hours providers and (d) other telephone access points in the NHS. (156798)

Ambulance services across the country work with partner agencies to implement referral pathways and introduce telephone advice systems into their operations centres. Ambulance Trusts are also currently taking forward work on the delivery of a national competency framework, and of a performance management framework, for control rooms and these will be used to inform the development of nationally recognised education and training programmes for ambulance call handling staff.

With regard to NHS Direct, out-of-hours providers and other telephone access points, it is for the care providers to ensure that calls are handled efficiently and safely to ensure the right outcomes for patients. NHS Direct and out-of-hours providers work to nationally agreed standards, including response times, and the Royal College of General Practitioners has developed a toolkit which will assist primary care trusts, and help providers to monitor their performance against the out-of-hours quality requirements.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress he has made in increasing consistency in call handling across urgent care referred to in Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance services, published on 30 June 2005. (156799)

Ambulance trusts are working with other care providers to improve consistency in call handling. Measures include multi-agency agreed referral pathways between services, and the development of technical links between providers to minimise call waiting times and improve patient satisfaction.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has established the standard competency framework and core training syllabus for call-handling staff referred to in Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance Services, published on 30 June 2005. (156802)

Ambulance trusts are currently taking forward work on the delivery of a national competency framework, and of a performance management framework, for control rooms and these will be used to inform the development of nationally recognised education and training programmes for ambulance call handling staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has commissioned to establish the level of medical support necessary to maximise the effectiveness of clinical telephone advice following publication of Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance Services on 30 June 2005. (156811)

No research has been commissioned to establish the level of medical support necessary to maximise the effectiveness of clinical telephone advice. All services are, however, expected to have appropriate clinical governance arrangements in place to monitor safety and patient satisfaction with any clinical advice that is provided.