Frontline ambulance staff numbers are to be boosted in the capital thanks to additional funding.
The London Ambulance Service will receive an extra £7.1m this year from its commissioners to recruit 240 frontline staff to help improve levels of care to patients amidst ever increasing demand.
Chief Executive Ann Radmore said: “This investment will help us ensure more staff are available to respond to 999 calls at a time when demand on our Service continues to rise.
“Whilst we have been providing a good service to patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries, increased demand has meant not everyone is getting the level of care they should from us, and many are waiting too long for our help. We know this needs to change, and that is backed up by what our patients and staff are telling us.”
Ann explained: “The additional funding will take us a step closer to having a paramedic on every emergency vehicle. We will use it to recruit more A&E support staff so that we can introduce a model of care used in other ambulance services, where paramedics work alongside these staff on ambulances. This way of working will mean more patients will be treated by a paramedic, and it will increase ambulance cover locally so that patient waiting times are reduced.”
A&E support staff, who currently attend lower priority calls, will receive additional training so that they can respond to a wide range of emergency calls alongside paramedics.
The Service also needs to operate more efficiently in the future to help manage anticipated increases in demand, and is planning to make changes to the way it responds to some 999 calls as well as introduce new working arrangements for its frontline staff.
Ann added: “Increasing our staffing numbers is important, but we also need to work with our staff and unions to make the best use of every penny we are given. And that means we have to operate more efficiently over coming years to improve levels of service to our patients and reduce the pressure on our staff.
“One way is to reduce the number of times we send more than one vehicle to a call where it’s clinically safe to do so. We will also provide more clinical advice to callers over the phone when it is the most appropriate way to help them.
“Changes to staff’s shift patterns and annual leave arrangements will also help us ensure we have staff working when our patients most need us.”
As well as improving care for patients, the planned changes will reduce pressure on staff who work within the busiest ambulance service in the country, and will provide them with more time for training and development. By bringing in changes that increase capacity, the Service will also reduce its use of private ambulance services to support the provision of patient care.
The Service will receive a further £7.7m to help maintain levels of patient care through the year while staff are recruited and the changes are introduced.