Review to be held into ambulances attending minor falls after EEAST winter pressures

PUBLISHED: 17:52 28 March 2018 | UPDATED: 17:52 28 March 2018

East of England ambulance. Picture: Simon Finlay

East of England ambulance. Picture: Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk

A review is to be held into whether ambulances should be sent to people who suffer a minor fall in light of challenges faced by the region’s NHS this winter.

An investigation has taken place into 22 serious incidents that occurred within the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) over the festive period due to delays in attendance.

A whistleblower claimed a number of patients had died while waiting for an ambulance.

The trust has drawn up an action plan of lessons that could be learnt at trust, regional and national level in order to prevent the same problems occurring again.

One recommendation is for a “national review of ambulance emergency services and whether it is appropriate for this service to be responding to patients who have fallen with no apparent harm, particularly when they are already in a care setting”.

The report does not make clear what other protocols would be put in place to help patients in this situation.

In 2016, EEAST responded to 11,271 999 calls where patients were helped up from the floor following a fall but did not require hospital treatment.

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk, said the investigation at EEAST had been robust so far.

When asked about the falls review, he said: “Not being a clinician, I am not in a position to comment on changes to practice, based on clinical reasons. An example is the suggestion that a person who falls and is considered to be uninjured will not have an ambulance sent, is I suppose potentially open to challenge. For instance, how and by whom the degree of injury is assessed, and who/what the alternative source of help might be.”

EEAST was not able to provide a comment by the time of going to press.

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