Concern raised over East of England ambulance proposals

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has defended its plans. Photo: Alan Storer
East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust has defended its plans. Photo: Alan Storer
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Concern has been raised about proposals to operate more ambulances in Peterborough and across the eastern region without paramedics on board.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is planning to introduce more Intermediate Tier Vehicles (ITVs).

These vehicles will be staffed by two emergency care assistants, who while qualified in advanced first aid and able to transport patients to hospital they are not, like paramedics, trained in administering drugs.

The GMB union held a protest against the proposals at EEAST’s board meeting on Wednesday (28 November).

Tony Hughes, from the GMB, said the changes were not an efficient way of managing resources as in many cases he believed both an ITV and a rapid response vehicle (RRV) would be sent to deal with the same emergency.

He said: “One example of this would be a RRV attending a call that requires transport to hospital. If an ITV is sent and the patient needs medical care on route the paramedic in the RRV would have to attend the patient in the ITV.

“This ties up two vehicles dealing with this patient as neither ITV or RRV would be able to attend another call.”

An EEAST spokesman confirmed it was intending to introduce more ITVs, describing it as a “model already successfully run in the trust”.

The trust is also redesigning staff rotas and has recriuited over 100 emergency care assistants this year to be more efficient.

He said: “These vehicles will transport patients who need little clinical intervention or supervision and is a more efficient way of transporting these patients rather than using a highly-skilled paramedic simply as a driver or transport resource.

“The paramedics can then be available to respond to other patients in the community with greater health needs.”

He added the introduction of control room operators in 2011 to filter calls and offer advice to people who do not need an ambulance was saving 900 unnecessary ambulance journeys a week.

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EEAST’s proposal welcomed

In April, Kelly Smith (30), of Norburn, Bretton, criticised EEAST after her nine-year-old daughter Kiera was refused an ambulance when the control room failed to appreciate the seriousness of her leg injury.

While still angry about what happened, Kelly said she welcomed the trust’s proposals to use more ITVs.

She said: “I think it’s a good idea. If it’s a less serious case they can send the care assistants and the ambulance can go where they are needed.”