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New Zealand Ambulance Service Strategy

Wellington Free Ambulance

15.09.08

Adoption of the draft New Zealand Ambulance Service Strategy could save up to 70 per cent of Wellington Free Ambulance's patients from an unnecessary hospital visit, the regional ambulance service says.

Wellington Free Ambulance was responding to the consultation document released by the Ministry of Health today.

Chief executive John Britton said the service is already making good progress implementing components of the strategy.

"Currently patients who call an ambulance are treated on the spot and if necessary transported to hospital emergency departments, whether they need hospital level care or not. This contributes to congestion at those departments and doesn't necessarily provide the patient with the level of care they need."

He said the emergency ambulance service was moving to provide treatment to patients in their homes and transporting them to a range of health care providers, rather than solely taking them to clogged emergency departments.

"We have appointed an Urgent Community Care manager, Andy Long, to oversee and support the adoption of a 'hear and treat' and 'see and treat' system in addition to the current 'treat and transport' model."

Mr Britton said Wellington Free Ambulance's enhanced emergency service could reduce visits to the region's emergency departments by about 28,000 patients per year.

"Our service will bring benefits to both patients and the health care sector. Not only will it reduce a sizeable volume of inappropriate hospital admissions but it will also ensure faster health and treatment outcomes for patients."

Mr Britton said advanced paramedics, called emergency care practitioners, would become frontline staff in providing Wellingtonians with at-home care when it was appropriate.

Emergency care practitioners have advanced paramedic skills and are post-graduate qualified.

"They can provide advanced patient management and assessment, minor illness and injury management, long-term condition management and pharmacology and therapeutic interventions," he said.

The ambulance service's first emergency care practitioner will arrive in Wellington from the UK shortly.

Mr Britton said WFA was also pleased the strategy endorsed the development of a transparent and sustainable funding model.

"A simplified funding regime that recognises the rise of medical rather than trauma call-outs would ensure Wellingtonians continue to receive the exemplary service Wellington Free Ambulance is known for."

ENDS


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