London’s Ambulance Service is to refuse to send emergency crews to around one in ten calls each week in a bid to improve its poor response times.
There are currently around 35,000 weekly requests for an ambulance and service bosses say demand is increasing by around 10% each year.
Government targets require that 75 per cent of category A patients – those in the most need – are reached within 8 minutes but the capital’s service is meeting this target in just 64 per cent of cases.
To help boost performance, LAS bosses will refuse to send an ambulance to anyone who operators deem not to be suffering from a serious or life-threatening condition.
Instead of receiving an ambulance, around 3,500 patients each week will be referred to NHS 111 or given clinical advice by phone.
According to Deputy Medical Director Dr Fenella Wrigley: “People with twisted ankles, fingers trapped in doors or acute dental pain, do not need an emergency ambulance response.”
Dr Wrigley also warns that “patients with minor illnesses – who do need to go to hospital but are not in a life-threatening condition – will wait longer.”
LAS Chief Executive Ann Radmore says the new restrictions are needed because a shortage of paramedics in the UK is making it harder for the service to meet growing demand.
She commented: “While we are taking steps to tackle these issues, we’re asking Londoners to help us and help ease the pressure on our front line staff.”