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Ambulance service puts too much emphasis on response time to detriment of overall care, says National Audit Office

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d3672 (Published 10 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3672
  1. Jo Carlowe
  1. 1London

A new report into England’s ambulance service has shown inefficiencies and wasteful practice.

The report, by the National Audit Office, says that the ambulance service could save the NHS £165m (€190m; $270m) a year if all 11 ambulance trusts adopted the best practices. Moreover it says that the Department of Health has placed too much emphasis on speed of response as a measure of performance rather than on clinical outcomes.

“Over the last 10 years, until the beginning of April 2011, the Department has focused on response time targets, rather than taking a more rounded view of whether cost-effective clinical outcomes have been achieved,” states the report.

“The 8-minute response target, intended for the most seriously ill patients, is one of the most …

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