Here we go again.
More 68 buses this morning: the first four jobs of the day were all category A ‘breathing difficulties’. That means a ‘response’ has to arrive at the location within 8 minutes.
As a prologue, let’s just remind ourselves of what a category A call is supposed to be. In a nutshell:
a condition (trauma or medical) which is immediately life-threatening within minutes of recognition and where rapid intervention and effective treatment by front-line ambulance staff will affect the outcome. [my emphasis]- From Review of Ambulance Performance Standards, July 1996
Or to put it another way – if we don’t get there ‘pronto‘ the patient is going to die.
Now that’s serious stuff so, in order to make sure we get it right, Control have the wonderful AMPDS system to triage our calls.
So, having hot-footed it to the addresses, what did I actually respond to this morning?
- A patient with abdominal discomfort for 5 days. Seen by me on Monday night and his GP on Tuesday. No other symptoms but the ‘ache‘ around his stomach made him feel like he was having to breathe in harder than usual – he stayed at home.
- A patient with a chest infection for 1 week. Seen by her own GP a few days ago and now on anti-biotics, but the carer thought she ‘seemed a bit worse today’ – she stayed at home too.
- A young lady with side pain – seen at A&E last night; had a chest X-ray and all that stuff. Nothing too sinister but was discharged with a diagnosis of a chest infection and given antibiotics. She reckoned the pain was worse today and wanted to re-attend. Nothing life threatening but the crew popped her up the road as requested.
- And finally, a lady having a panic attack. She’d calmed herself down by the time we arrived. We just did the usual checks; everything fine. She stayed at home as well.
There you have it – 4 immediately life-threatening calls – apparently. 3 stayed at home and 1 re-attended ‘just to be sure‘. That’s how ‘good’ AMPDS is (falls off chair laughing), yet on a serious note, ambulance services across the UK are reconfiguring their entire fleets just to make sure they can tick the Nu-Labour box for ‘A’ cat calls like these. What an absolute nonsense and a complete abandonment of patient care.
But hold on to your hats – it will get worse, much worse, next April when the goalposts are moved!