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Unite Claims - Prioritisation of Emergency Calls

15 January 2015

Ian Brandwood, Executive Director of People and Engagement at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said:
 
“We continue to strongly refute the misleading claims of Unite the Union, which represents just 8% of our workforce.  Their on-going campaign to try and discredit the organisation and the work of our highly-skilled and dedicated staff is purely about formal recognition at the Trust and is not in the best interests of patients.

“We don’t agree with the serious allegations relating to the accuracy of our emergency call coding and financial accounts, which are both regularly audited by external bodies and have been signed off with high assurance.  In July 2013, the Care Quality Commission carried out a complete audit of call performance and concluded it was exemplary. This was followed by two further independent audits in 2014 from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) and NHS West Yorkshire Audit Consortium, both of which were completely satisfied with the processes in place and verified that we use the same national protocols as other English ambulance services.

“In 2013 the Trust was awarded the Accredited Centre of Excellence status from the International Academies of Emergency Medical Dispatch for our emergency call handling and dispatch.  At this time we were one of only 174 emergency services accredited internationally.
 
“With regard to claims about preventing staff from raising issues, this couldn’t be further from the truth. We have a comprehensive whistleblowing policy in place and encourage staff to use that avenue in absolute confidence. We certainly do not silence our staff.

“Unite is consistently promoting sensational allegations without sharing their evidence. We have asked Unite on numerous occasions to raise their specific concerns with us and they have failed to do so.”         …cont’d
Further Information on Prioritisation of Emergency Calls
The Trust’s main priority is to provide a high-quality ambulance service in Yorkshire and the Humber and we work very hard to ensure that we provide an appropriate and timely response to all of our patients.

In some life-threatening emergencies it may be beneficial to patients to receive further in-depth clinical assessment.  Highly-skilled clinicians based in the Emergency Operations Centre provide further assessment, advice and support using nationally-validated support tools.

This clinically-led process may identify that the patient’s condition is more or less serious than the initial assessment.  This results in those with a serious condition receiving support from a clinician until an ambulance clinician arrives on scene and those whose condition is not immediately life-threatening receiving the most appropriate care for their need where alternative pathways of care are available.

Priority can be escalated and de-escalated as appropriate to the patient’s clinical condition and the secondary clinical assessment is useful in identifying patients who deteriorate as well those whose illness or injury is less serious than first indicated.

In addition, less urgent calls are assessed by clinicians to ensure that they receive the most appropriate response for their needs.

Processes in the Emergency Operations Centre have been independently audited on a number of occasions including:

  • a Care Quality Commission review in 2013 as part of its routine inspection regime when it was fully satisfied with the processes in place
  • a Peer Review by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) in 2014
  • an NHS West Yorkshire Audit Consortium review on behalf of the Trust’s commissioners in 2014.

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department