Treating more patients at the scene could save the NHS £300 million a year

A recent NHS Improvement Report by Lord Carter suggests that as much as £300 million could be saved each year, by 2021, by treating patients with modern technology at the scene.

In the report, Lord Carter says: "Too many patients are being unnecessarily taken to A&E by ambulances, putting further pressure on hospital services that are already on the back foot. Not only is this financially costly, but it takes up staff's time and means patients are having to spend time waiting in A&E when they should be recovering at home.”

“An ambulance is not a taxi to A&E.”

"Modern technology means that patients can often be treated at the scene. But an ageing ambulance fleet means that this is not always possible."

According to the report, the number of calls to the ambulance service has risen steadily over a number of years. Meanwhile, the profile of patients it cares for and supports has changed. Calls for life-threatening emergencies now only make up 10% of demand. The remainder mostly relates to patients with urgent primary, social or mental healthcare needs1. This change in demand has placed significant pressure on ambulance provision. From its original focus on conveying patients to hospital, the service has evolved into one which must also ensure patients receive the appropriate care for their needs.

As a healthcare-focused communications agency, we’ve become very aware of this challenge through our work with RDT. RDT is an award-winning UK med-tech company whose unique modular monitoring and defibrillation system offers dual-screen resuscitation care capability. Its solution is packed with innovative functionality, including advanced patient data collection/sharing and real-time data streaming.

In general terms, the ability to access patient information on the frontline has been met with limited take-up by ambulance trusts. In particular, little use is being made of summary care records (SCR), which offer key pieces of patient information in real time. A similar issue highlighted by the report as a future requirement is the ability to send observational data to the hospital prior to arrival. This facility is available today through technologies currently built into RDT devices.

New technology, as used in RDT equipment, can help drive savings across the system. It could mean reducing the number of ‘see and convey’ patients, who account for 65% of ambulance activity, or enabling a more integrated approach to information sharing on arrival. The latter could significantly shorten handover times, which currently cost the service around £12 million a month through delays.

Achieving the best outcome for patients is at the heart of efforts to improve productivity, in both the ambulance service and the wider healthcare system. Technology companies like RDT have a vital role in delivering value-based innovation that drives down costs.

To find out more out work in healthcare, medical technology and life sciences please contact us to arrange a confidential presentation of our work.

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1 Department of Health (2005), Taking Healthcare to the Patient: Transforming NHS Ambulance Services