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Ambulance service could provide more medical services
HEALTH watchdog leaders have backed proposals to enable NHS ambulance staff to provide a range of medical services where people live, providing it does not affect emergency calls.
Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) says involving its clinicians in preventative work across North Yorkshire would boost NHS service provision and cut costs in an area facing increasingly regionalised health services and spiralling NHS debts.
YAS’s chairman, former North Yorkshire chief constable Della Cannings, said the benefits of providing treatments in community hospitals, GP surgeries or patients’ homes would be felt from towns such as Thirsk and Bedale to villages in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.
Ms Cannings said the move would not affect its response to 999 calls.
She said: “We have got clinicians on board vehicles who are out in areas ready to respond and they could be integrated with GPs and doing more preventative work.
“There are some opportunities for services to be delivered differently so people don’t have to go into hospital.
“What we want to do is make sure people get the right treatment at the right time. It also saves on the costs of admission to an accident and emergency department.”
YAS is hoping the GP-led clinical commissioning groups, which are set to replace NHS North Yorkshire and York in controlling NHS budgets, will pay it to deliver some services.
Details of which non-emergency treatments ambulance staff could provide are being examined as YAS works towards applying to become an NHS foundation trust, which would see it granted greater freedom to deliver and develop services.
Foundation trusts are membership organisations that are free from central government control and the YAS application will be considered by the Department of Health in the summer.
Jim Clark, chairman of the county’s health scrutiny committee, said he would support the move as it would provide opportunities for unique solutions to service provision in England’s largest county.
Mr Clark, who has criticised recent proposals to concentrate some services at regional “super-hospitals”, said: “It would be good to be able to treat people at community hospitals and closer to home at a time of financial constraints.”
The scrutiny committee’s deputy chairman, Upper Dales councillor John Blackie, gave the proposals a cautious welcome, and questioned whether YAS, which has unfilled posts, would have staff available to deliver extra services.
Ms Cannings urged residents to become members of the trust and help shape what services YAS will provide.
A YAS meeting for residents, titled Looking To The Future, to discuss its services, will be held at the Methodist Church, in High Street, Northallerton, on Thursday, January 10, from 3pm to 5pm.