Ambulance chiefs blast critical TV claim

AMBULANCE chiefs in the east of England today condemned last night's Tonight with Trevor McDonald television programme about the number of paramedics working in the UK.

AMBULANCE chiefs in the east of England today condemned last night's Tonight with Trevor McDonald television programme about the number of paramedics working in the UK.

The programme claimed that ambulance services were failing to recruit enough paramedics, leaving patients at risk because lower skilled emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are responding to 999 calls without paramedic back up.

But Anna Bennett, acting chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS), said: “We are very concerned that our patients will be unnecessarily alarmed by the misleading scaremongering surrounding this issue and the complete lack of balance and context in the reporting.

“We would like to reassure our patients that our staff are skilled clinicians capable of dealing with life-threatening emergencies.


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“With an executive team including two doctors, and several more on the payroll, our prime focus is that patients receive the best possible clinical care rather than simply stopping the clock to meet response times.”

Dr John Scott, medical director of the EEAS, said that the trust had increased the number of paramedics by more than 30per cent in the past five years.

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He said: “These paramedics can now give treatments unheard of outside hospital just two or three years ago, such as giving clot-busting drugs to heart attack patients, and the fact is we are saving and prolonging more lives than ever before.

“Beyond that we have introduced dozens of emergency care practitioners (ECPs) who have enhanced diagnostic skills and can give an even wider range of drugs than paramedics. This enables more patients' conditions to be resolved by the attending clinician in the community.”

He said there were only a handful of drugs and procedures EMTs could not carry out - mainly for drug regulation reasons - and there are clear guidelines for the eventuality that more specialised medical intervention is required.

The trust the traditional response of sending a two-person ambulance to all calls was inefficient.

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