Bradshaw calls for radical reform of Ambulance Service

Alliance South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw has called for “radical reform” of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) to help improve outcomes for patients.

It follows an evidence session by the NIAS at today’s Stormont Health Committee meeting, which Ms Bradshaw said showed the pressing need for changes to be made across the board.

“With the Bengoa Report yet to be published and its recommendations not yet developed, the time is right for the NIAS to be transformed to move away from outputs to outcomes. At present it is measured using the outdated mode of time taken to reach the patient and then transfer them to hospital,” she said.

“With reforms such as including a medic travelling in an ambulance, the NIAS could contribute better to improving outcomes for patients. NIAS staff do a superb job but are hamstrung by the outdated system under which they are operating. Serious accidents needing a medic account for 37 per cent of ambulance calls, so the medic could perform life-saving procedures at the site before the patient sets off in the ambulance. This will eliminate the race to hospital, which is particularly problematic for rural areas.

“While there are plans for the introduction of a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, that is only one vehicles covering all of Northern Ireland, which will only operate during the day. Radical reform of the NIAS would enhance service right across the board, reducing wasted time where ambulances are left waiting outside emergency departments when every minute will impact on quality of life.”

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