Demand for emergency ambulances has risen

Demand for emergency ambulances in the United Kingdom is rising. A study in this weeks BMJ examines the reasons for this rise.

Researchers analysed emergency ambulance dispatches using a randon sample of records held by Wiltshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust. They identified details of 6,100 calls relating to 5,821 incidents over a nine year period.

The proportion of incidents in response to a call from a general practitioner, or incidents where one was present, remained fairly constant over the study period, whereas the proportion of calls made by patients and relatives rose from 12% to 20%.

The category sudden illness at home showed an increase out of line with that seen overall. Incidents described as collapse fell from 35% to 20%, whereas those attributed more specifically to cardiac problems rose from 22% to 31% and those attributed to respiratory problems from 12% to 21%. This suggests that people are using more specific terminology to describe emergency incidents, say the authors.

Demand for emergency ambulances has risen, say the authors. Although this increase is often attributed to general practitioners redirecting patients with urgent problems to the ambulance service, particularly out of surgery hours, they found no evidence of this.

Research identifying influences on callers perceptions of urgency is necessary if we are to improve our understanding of the demand for emergency care and our ability to plan for the future, they conclude.


Contact: Emma Wilkinson
BMJ-British Medical Journal

Page: 1

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