Struggling ambulance trust considers using volunteer drivers

The plans have been floated by East of England Ambulance Services Trust, one of many worst performers within the nation on essentially the most pressing response instances, which stated it was contemplating such steps due to issues round capability. Senior paramedics have expressed deep concern in regards to the “determined” plan, saying it may put sufferers and employees in danger. The trust stated volunteers had been concerned in affected person care for many years and that their involvement can be restricted to much less critical instances. The concept was put ahead in an inner electronic mail seen by the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

In it, the trust’s senior management stated it wished suggestions from group first responder volunteers on “very early discussions” for the way they may very well be additionally used. This included proposals for them driving ambulances. The volunteer group first responders would solely be utilized in “low acuity affected person” instances. The trust additionally instructed HSJ it will think about using different emergency companies and the navy this winter to plug staffing gaps. However one senior paramedic at East of England Ambulance Providers was “completely horrified” by the proposal for volunteer ambulance drivers, even for low acuity sufferers, including that it confirmed how “determined” the trust was forward of the winter, suggesting issues round delayed response instances, skilled final winter, may very well be repeated. The senior paramedic, chatting with HSJ on the situation of anonymity, added: “Does it pose a danger to affected person security? Certainly. What occurs if the affected person abruptly deteriorates and must be blue lighted to the hospital? “The paramedic within the again can’t do it. They must be attending the affected person. The employees are very towards it. As a paramedic, you need to be working with somebody who’s certified and is aware of what they’re doing. “I’ve by no means heard something like this in all my years. CFRs fulfil a vital position of their respective communities, however, they need to be there of their communities, not on frontline ambulances. “I instructed colleagues at different trusts in regards to the plans and so they have been completely horrified.”

Group first responders can be members of the general public who’ve acquired primary coaching in life-saving interventions similar to defibrillation, off-duty ambulance employees or professionals from a non-medical self-discipline who could also be close by or attending emergencies, similar to firefighters or safety officers. They get 5 days “intensive” coaching on how you can give primary however usually essential assist earlier than paramedics can get to an affected person. An electronic mail to employees from native managers despatched this week stated: “[The senior leadership group want] to acquire suggestions from CFR teams on the potential utilisation of CFRs in supporting double-crewed ambulances and attending low-acuity sufferers the place the CFR may then doubtlessly drive certified crew members and sufferers to the suitable receiving acute or acceptable care dwelling. “This feature does require the driving licence holder to additionally maintain C1 on their licence [which allows the holder to drive vans up to 7.5 tonnes].” In a press release, the trust stated volunteers had been supporting affected person take care of over 20 years including: “Many individuals who volunteer and work in affected person transport companies deliver earlier abilities and information that may contribute otherwise to the supply of companies throughout instances of maximum service stress.” It stated CFRs may very well be despatched to non-injury fall sufferers – those that fall however are usually not critically damage, usually aged, who might merely need assistance to stand up – and it burdened: “That is info gathering on the proposed two choices, due to this fact ought to nearly all of CFRs agree that is one thing [the trust] ought to doubtlessly take ahead, additional detailed discussions would must be held to make sure all of the related governance, coaching and affected person security features are addressed.” It claimed using volunteers was widespread in nations similar to Canada, the US and Australia including it was “widespread place” for volunteers to employees emergency ambulances.

The assertion stated: “Whereas our long-term plan is delivered, it’s crucial that the trust contemplate each various to maximise current and various assets to assist our sufferers throughout the winter interval.”