July 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the NHS, and in recognition of this superb public service that is the envy of much of the world, there were celebrations throughout the year across the UK.
Ambulance trusts held events locally and shared experiences of how life in the ambulance service has changed over the decades.
It is sometimes difficult, with the day-to-day pressures and challenges being faced by all parts of the NHS, to forget how much the provision of care and medical treatments have developed and advanced for the better.
The NHS has inevitably had to adapt in terms of structures, governance and funding mechanisms over the last 70 years in order to accommodate these advances and the increasing demands on its services. It seems we are always in a state of flux.
The contribution that the ambulance sector makes in delivering NHS services is extensive, often in the most difficult and unpredictable of circumstances, and ambulance clinicians are highly regarded for their skills and resilience in out-of-hospital urgent and emergency care.
Changing response models and better integration of services mean that the ambulance role can increasingly have an impact in improving patient experiences and outcomes, by providing more diagnosis and treatment in the community setting, reducing the number of interactions patients need to make with services for each episode of care, ensuring care is provided closer to home and avoiding hospital attendance and admission when it is not needed. All of this is at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), launched in January 2019.
The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) spent much of 2018/19 working with its members to provide input to the development of the LTP and to articulate the strategic direction for the sector to ensure it continues to support the objectives within it – particularly in relation to ‘Boosting out of hospital care’, ‘Ill health prevention and reducing health inequalities’ and ‘Improving care quality and outcomes’.
At the beginning of the year AACE set out agreed priorities for the NHS ambulance sector for 2018/19 and 2019/20 which encompass how they aim to continue to improve and transform ambulance service delivery and contribute to the ever-changing health and social care landscape.