For the last year or so, time targets for emergency responders have been scrapped apart from in the most life-threatening of cases - and now a new system of dealing with ambulance calls has been backed by the government to colour code calls in a bid to ensure that that all patients are treated seriously enough.
According to the BBC, calls will be categorised as red, amber or green. Red will be the most immediately life-threatening calls like cardiac arrest or choking. The most recent stats show that five per cent of calls were categorised as being red - in these cases, 65 per cent of ambulances are expected to reach the patient within eight minutes.
In the nine months leading up to January this year, over 75 per cent of ambulances reached their destinations within the target time.
Before the trial of this new system was trialled, a larger percentage of these calls were classified as red, with the 65 per cent target repeatedly missed. A report into the trial suggested that a review of the categories outside red be carried out, especially in the amber group.
It noted: "There is concern that this group is too large and not sufficiently discriminatory in terms of prioritising patients with high acuity illness and that for some calls this is resulting in unacceptably long waits."
A recent National Audit Office report found that ambulance services in the UK are now finding it increasingly difficult to handle the rising demand for emergency services, which is continuing to grow rapidly.
Contributing factors potentially include rising numbers of elderly patients with numerous conditions, a rise in the number of alcohol-related issues, how patients seek help and the availability of primary care services in local communities. Funding hikes for such services has not matched rising demand, it was noted.
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