Lord Carter’s 2018 review into operational productivity and performance in English NHS ambulance trusts found significant unwarranted variation in the national ambulance fleet and a lack of innovation at scale. This work was based on analysis of trust data, review of international ambulance fleets and engagement with frontline services.
His review considered that the sector could benefit significantly by adopting a standard vehicle specification and by procuring vehicles through a single channel. These actions would drive innovation on a national scale in partnership across the sector, and with suppliers and other expert groups. It made nine recommendations which were accepted in full by the NHS Improvement Board on 27 September 2018.
A key recommendation in the report is that “NHS Improvement should work with trusts boards and the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives to agree proposals to rapidly move to a standard specification for new fleet across England and deliver significant improvements in the way fleet is managed”.
The development of a single specification is the first step in moving towards a new model for managing fleet across the English NHS ambulance services and securing value for money in the procurement of ambulances. It will provide a consistent basis for engaging with the market and for developing a future procurement strategy.
The consultation document provides a high-level specification for a standard emergency DCA which NHSI propose is adopted by all trusts from April 2019. It is deliberately high level to enable trusts to continue to make detailed design decisions at a local level. It does, however, specify that a van conversion ambulance is required.